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Bring on the Berries!

This is a great time of year to eat berries. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are all in season now. Berries are sweet, juicy, and delicious! They are low in calories – only 70-100 calories per cup. What other sweet delight can you enjoy that is so tasty and has so few calories? Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries have a low glycemic index which is good news, particularly for type 2 diabetics. Blueberries are rich in fiber and vitamin K. Their vitamin C helps make collagen,the framework of our bones and skin, as well as helps make neurotransmitters in our brain which can improve cognitive function and memory. Vitamin B6 found in blueberries helps our body process protein, regulate blood sugar, and strengthens the immune system. The anthocyanin in blueberries gives them their blue pigment and helps fight free radicals that damage cells. Blueberries are also one of the healthiest foods for eye health. Strawberries – what’s not to love! The are rich in vitamin C, help fight inflammation, and contain manganese which helps the body process sugar, cholesterol, and fat. Strawberries protect our skin against damaging ultraviolet light. I would suggest purchasing organic strawberries when possible, as conventionally grown strawberries have higher pesticide residues. Raspberries are high in manganese which helps with wound healing, fiber needed for regular elimination, and copper which plays a role in energy metabolism and helps form red blood cells. They are also high in vitamin C. New research has shown the phytonutrients found in raspberries can increase metabolism in our fat cells and may help in weight loss. Berries can help you meet the goal of 3-4 servings (1/2 cup) of fruit a day. When not in season, berries can be found in the freezer section at the supermarket. It is best berries be kept in the refrigerator. They also freeze well. Just put in a zip-lock bag and freeze. Easy! Berries are nutrient powerhouses offering antioxidant protection and anti-inflammatory benefits. Mix berries with plain yogurt, add to salads or as a topping on your breakfast cereal. A quick and simple dessert is to add a bit of balsamic vinegar and honey to berries, mix, and enjoy. Berries are also delicious in smoothies and cobblers, or just eat them plain as a snack. Want to learn more about how to make better dietary choices that can slow down, stop, and reverse chronic diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and overweight? Enroll in the CHIP program that begins September 15th. www.CHIPhealth.com E-mail jody.perrecone@CHIPhealth.com or call 815-975-4523 for more information. Registration deadline is September...

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Go Millennials!

Baby Boomers step aside – the Millennials have taken over! According to Pew Research, the number of Millennials (those born between 1981 to 1997 and the children of Baby Boomers) has surpassed the number of Baby Boomers. Why is this important? They have a voice – a loud voice. They are making it known to Big Agriculture and Big Business what they want and don’t want in their food, and the big guys are listening. What don’t Millennials want? Antibiotics, GMO’s, and artificial ingredients. What do Millennials want? Organic, locally grown, sustainable food and animals to be raised in humane conditions. Here is just a snippet of who is listening. Pepsi later this year is removing aspartame from their Diet Pepsi. Kraft is removing artificial preservatives and yellow Dye #5 and #6 from their mac and cheese. (The European Union has required a warning label be put on packages of food with Yellow Dye #5 for years). Subway removed the chemical azodicarbonamide that is also used in yoga mats and shoe soles (no kidding!) from its bread dough. Azodicarbonamide is just one of many chemicals allowed in food in the United States but not in the European Union or Australia. McDonald’s will quit buying chickens that have been fed antibiotics that affect human antibiotic resistance (this too has been banned in the European Union for many years). Chick-fil-A’s is phasing out buying chickens that have been fed antibiotics and ionophores. Panera Bread is removing additives that are currently in 150 of their ingredients. Taco Bell is removing some of their artificial ingredients from the menu, including an artificial pepper flavoring. Chipolte’s menu items no longer contain GMOs. Jackson County, Oregon challenged big agriculture and chemical companies in court and won, banning the growing genetically modified crops in their county. The state of Vermont prevailed over Monsanto and foods with GMOs will not longer be able to be labeled “natural” beginning in 2016 (more lawsuits to follow). Many of the ingredient changes involve dyes and artificial flavors. Whole Foods does not allow products on their shelves that contain artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, preservatives, or hydrogenated fats. How did our “food” get so out of whack in the first place???? It appears some food manufacturers are more interested in manufacturing food products cheaply rather than making food that will sustain us in a healthy way. It seems every week another company is getting on the bandwagon. Is this just a big marketing ploy? I don’t know. While removing these artificial ingredients is a good step forward, much more needs to be done. Not much discussion has taken place regarding foods that are still too high in fat, calories, salt, and sugar and are consequently making us sick. We need to keep moving the pendulum in the direction of demanding prepared foods be made with whole foods – whole grains, vegetables, beans, legumes, and fruits that our body requires to be healthy. Without adequate amounts nutrients that are found in whole foods, our body cannot do what it was designed to do – work hard 24/7 for our benefit to obtain and keep it in the healthiest state possible. Instead, it is using all of its energy to try to keep up with ridding itself of toxic chemicals we’re ingesting including herbicides,...

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Advocacy for Good Health in 2015

Last month I was at Mayo Clinic with my sister. While she was having some tests, I had time to go to the Patient Resource Center, a library of medical information located in the clinic. Upon entering the resource center, painted in big letters on the wall was the following quote, “The object of all health education is to change the conduct of individual men, women, and children by teaching them to care for their bodies well, and this instruction should be given throughout the entire period of their educational life.” Charlie H. Mayo. That was quoted in 1928 by one of one of the founding brothers of Mayo Clinic, Dr. Charles H. Mayo. Dr. Mayo wasn’t saying, “Come to Mayo Clinic, and we will take care of you.” He was saying that our health is a lifelong educational process. Through education, we can and should change our habits so that we may be responsible conductors of our health. That is not to say medical care doesn’t have its place. It certainly does! But not to investigate for ourselves how best we can care and maintain our health – expecting the doctor to “fix” it all in the precious few minutes he/she can spend with us during an office visit is wrong! Doctors can only do so much. They need our help. We must take responsibility for our health. Perhaps you may have heard this quote: “Self care is the new primary care.” There is much we can do. We can stay fit and healthy, take action to prevent illness, achieve better use of medicines, manage minor ailments, and improve care of long term conditions.1 If we are proactive regarding our health, we will be the better for it in the long run. Be curious about your health. Make learning more about conditions you may have a 2015 New Year’s resolution. Find out what you can do to slow down or even reverse your conditions. Write down questions to discuss with your doctor next time you see him or her. Become an active partner in your health. If you are currently in good health, learn what do you need to do maintain your health. Dr. Charlie Mayo 87 years ago said education is the key to good health. Reputable blogs/websites to investigate that have good health education information include www.plantbasedpharmacist.com, www.jeffnovick.com, www.nutritionstudies.org, www.forksoverknives.com, www.pcrm.org, and www.drmcdougall.com. Be a detective regarding your health. Investigate the causes of your conditions, and take action so that you can become a good steward of your health.     ] 11 Mar 2006, Society Launches New Self Care Strategy. The Pharmaceutical Journal, Vol. 276. Retrieved from...

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Musculoskeletal Pain During Pregnancy – You Don’t Have to Live With It!

Back pain and sciatic pain are common complaints during pregnancy.  Fortunately, physical therapy is available to help pregnant patients with these conditions.  Physical therapists trained in women’s health issues, can instruct prenatal patients with safe and appropriate exercises on land and/or in the pool.   Learning safe exercises can decrease the mom-to-be’s stress level and improve overall physical mobility.  Education on proper posture, proper supports to the joints, and proper body mechanics  (learning safe ways to move to protect spine and pelvis) can be included to promote physical well-being and to decrease pain and inflammation.  Partners can be involved and educated on learning manual/ soft tissue mobilization techniques as needed to decrease stress and decrease knots in the patient’s painful muscles.  Thus, learning ways to increase comfort during pregnancy can be very beneficial to the mom-to-be. Please note:  A pregnant patient wishing to pursue physical therapy needs a physician order.  It is recommended that the referral would come from the OB/GYN doctor.  The physical therapist will work closely with the referring physician.  Any normal pregnancy would qualify for physical therapy evaluation and treatments.  Many insurance plans do cover physical therapy for pregnant patients with musculoskeletal conditions, ie. back pain, sciatic pain, etc.  (Individual plans would need to be checked and verified).  Prenatal patients that are high-risk or on bed-rest will most likely be unable to pursue therapy – however, this would be determined by the OB/GYN.   Thus, some patients on home bed-rest may be approved for manual physical therapy techniques only and allowed to travel to the clinic – this would depend on the condition and recommendation of the OB/GYN. Bottom line – Pregnancy pains – You don’t have to just live with it!  You can do something about it to make it more tolerable.  Physical therapy can be a helpful...

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Some brief thoughts on “wellness”

It used to be that “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything at all.”  Now that we find ourselves tethered to our smartphones at all hours of the day/night, spending our lives at our desks or in the car chauffeuring our children to various after-school activities, “health” appears to be the furthest thought from our mind.  Our lives are about speed and expeditiousness.  We need to learn to slow down and take a little “me” time. So, a few thoughts on best practices to help you begin to think about “wellness”.  “Wellness” is a neutral term.  It’s more of a concept of finding good health and fitness in an environment that reduces stresses found in everyday life.  It’s an internal dialogue you have with yourself to determine how well you feel.  There is no “one” answer to “what is wellness?”  Exercise a few days a week for at least 30 minutes to get your heart rate up.  When you get sick, you will recover better.  This is regardless of your weight.  Eat a diet high in good fats (nuts/fish), fiber, and whole foods (not processed).  You will feel better, have more energy, which will inspire you to move more.  Don’t dwell on items that bother you.  Schedule time in your schedule to deal with them and walk away from your troubles when that time is up.  Don’t allow those stresses to work themselves into your entire life.  Enjoy your life!  When you want to make changes, and they’re many in number or large in scope, break them down to small goals.  Take pride in reaching those small goals, as this will help inspire you to keep going.  Challenge yourself to eat more!  Change what “eating more” means from volume of food to types of food.  Eat more fruit.  Eat more greens.  Eat more new foods.  Be mindful of what you’re eating and challenge yourself to make small changes each week.  Drink water!  Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.  Your body needs it to function correctly.  Drink water throughout your day.  And drink water during your exercise routine.  Basically, drink water and avoid those sugary drinks! Greg Georgis is the Owner/Founder of FitMe Wellness, a health club offering a holistic approach to health, fitness and wellness. In addition to state-of-the art fitness equipment, group classes and private training, FitMe Wellness provides a variety of nutritional and wellness counseling opportunities to its members so they have the tools they need to reach long-term health...

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Thanksgiving Traditions Revisited in 2014

Thanksgiving – it’s a feeding frenzy and a day of guilty pleasures. We eat more than we should – and oh my – the calories! Here’s how to have an epic Thanksgiving dinner with a nutritional boost, and save on the waistline at the same time. 1.  Serve soup as a first course. A vegetable soup would go nicely with the rest of your Thanksgiving meal. The water and fiber in the soup is satisfying, so we will eat fewer calories. 2. Add parsnips to the mashed potatoes. Two or three parsnips would be fine, depending on how much mashed potatoes you make. Parsnips look like a white carrot and can be prepared the same way. Peel the parsnip, cut in chunks and add to the potatoes when cooking. Whip as usual. Parsnips have vitamin C, folate, and manganese and will add a little sweetness to the potatoes. Use soy milk rather than cow’s milk when making mashed potatoes to forgo the antibiotics and hormones found in cow’s milk. Skip the butter – the parsnips add a subtle sweet flavor everyone will enjoy. 3. Add nuts to your vegetable dish to dress it up. Chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, or pine nuts are all good choices. Your dish will look fancy without much effort. Roasting the nuts before adding to the vegetables will add an additional dimension of flavor. These nuts have healthy monounsaturated fats and minerals. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E. Walnuts contain B6 and thiamin. Pine nuts have vitamin K, E, and niacin. 4. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on the top of your salad. These add a burst of flavor everyone will enjoy. Wear an apron while removing the seeds, as the juice will stain clothing. One way to minimize the squirting juice is to fill a bowl with water. Cut the pomegranate in half. Under water, break open the pomegranate and separate the seeds from the white membrane. The seeds will float to the top of the water. Save time Thanksgiving Day by doing this the day before and refrigerate them. Pomegranates are loaded with vitamins C, K, folate and several minerals. 5. Instead of candied sweet potatoes, serve whipped sweet potatoes. Peel and boil the sweet potatoes in water. Drain and whip them. Since they are sweet, no brown sugar or butter is needed. A sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg is all you need. If they are thicker than you like, just add a little soy milk. 6. Desserts can really do us in! This Pumpkin Tofu Pie is a hit with all my family – vegans and carnivores alike. Don’t let the tofu scare you. This contains the same spices and tastes like a traditional pumpkin pie minus the eggs and cream. The pie crust is Mary McDougall’s recipe. The filling I adapted from several recipes. Use organic pumpkin and apple juice concentrate if possible. Crust – 1 cup Grape Nuts Cereal, 1/4 cup apple juice concentrate. Preheat oven to 350º. Mix the Grape Nuts and apple juice concentrate. Pat into a 9” pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool before filling. Filling – 1 1/2 packages Mori-Nu Extra Firm silken tofu,2 cups cooked pumpkin, 2/3 cups real maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 t. ginger, 1/2 t....

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Incontinence – Ladies – You Don’t Have to Live With It!

Urinary incontinence can be frustrating, inconvenient, and can even limit social outings.  In the elderly population, it is sadly a large contributing factor to nursing home placement.  While some medical conditions can contribute to urinary incontinence and should be treated medically, quite often there is an underlying musculoskeletal dysfunction that can be contributing to the condition.  Some typical musculoskeletal problems can include: Pelvic floor muscle weakness (these muscles help “close the door” of the urethra (where the urine comes out) – when they work properly, they help you stay dry Overactive pelvic floor muscles -muscles are too tense and therefore cannot function properly Poor posture – increased arch in low back, locked (hyperextended) knees – this posture can produce tight hip flexors which are located in the front of your pelvis, pulling your pelvis more forward, placing increased stress on your bladder (this can lead to urgency and frequency)  Weak lower abdominals (your deepest layer of abdominals in the lower abdomen – the transverse abdominus– works with your pelvic floor, taking strain off the bladder, when it is functioning properly) Abnormal muscle imbalance throughout the pelvis and abdominal region (a common presentation is a female presenting with too much tension and overuse of the upper abdominals and not enough resting tone/support in the lowers, which can result with leakage of urine with cough or sneeze) Abdominal or gynecological surgeries can produce scar tissue – without getting the scar tissue massaged/stretched, this can lead to abnormal pulling on the muscles and lead to muscle imbalance (scar massage should not be attempted without skilled guidance from your pelvic floor physical therapist) Abdominal or gynecological surgery can also lead to muscle disuse and weakness, or abnormal resting tone -muscles that are too active or not active enough Obesity can place increased stress on the bladder Poor breathing pattern  – yes, ladies – I am talking about your breathing quality.  If we are stressed out, we tend to breathe more from our upper chest and accessory breathing muscles in the neck.  This does not help us use our main breathing muscle – the diaphragm.  If we continue to breathe more from our chest and not our lower abdomen and lower thoracic region, we can develop abnormal resting tone of the pelvic floor – which can eventually lead to bladder control problems. Other things to consider that can lead to urinary incontinence include: Prolapse (a drop of the pelvic organs – uterus, bladder, or rectum commonly into the vaginal wall) may or may not cause incontinence symptoms, but should be addressed with strength and posture training in order to prevent further dropping.  Mild to moderate prolapses tend to do very well with pelvic floor and core strengthening.  It should be noted that prolapses that are moderate to severe should be evaluated for a pessary (an item that is placed to push the organ back up) versus a surgical consult. Toileting habits – Your position matters when you sit on the toilet.  Learning proper posture techniques can enable you to void urine and bowels better without straining the organs. Also, rushing could lead to not fully emptying bladder or even lead to constipation.  (It be should noted that straining hard to have bowel movements can make prolapses worse.) Dietary Bladder Irritants – Some individuals may find that their bladder is better when they avoid certain foods.  Most common ones include...

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