Friday, December 1, 2017

Managing the Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us.  It can be a happy and joyous time, but it can also be a frenetic, anxious, or depressing time.  What are some tips to help individuals manage the season?

The holiday season can be wonderful and yet challenging time.  Below are some tips to make the season a littler easier to manage.

         Have modest expectations- don’t let the materialism and commercialization dictate how the holidays are supposed to look or feel

         Plan ahead and stick to the plan
        Be intentional about your holiday plans
        What and who you will buy for this season
        Where and when you will go places
        Who you will spend time with
        When breaks are needed from the hustle and bustle

         Keep you habits - don’t let the holiday season dramatically change certain habits
        Eating habits
        Sleeping habits
        Your normal routine
        Alcoholic intake

         Regular Exercise - it is great for burning calories, but also good for bouts of depression or anxiety

         Get outside – sunshine, fresh air and physical activity are great ways to help us regulate stressors.

The following websites were used in answering the question:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Color of Fruits and Vegetables

Numerous Stump the Staff answers cite the importance of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet.  A client asked the follow up question; “Does the color of the fruit or vegetables impact its health benefits?”

Fruit and vegetables are always a great choice to improve your diet.  The color of the fruit or vegetable is important because the color helps determine its nutritional content.  There are several public service campaigns that promote this idea and have phrases such as:

  • Eat the Rainbow
  • Five a Day the Color Way
  • Eat from the Color Wheel

As part of a healthy diet, you should try to get some of each color every day.  Below are the common colors, choices, and the benefits of the particular color.

Red: Beets, Cherries, Cranberries, Pink Grapefruit, Radishes, Red Apples, Red Bell Peppers and Red Chili Peppers
Benefits: Rich in the antioxidants, reduces risk of prostate cancer, lowers blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol levels

Orange/Yellow: Apricots, Butternut Squash, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Lemons, Oranges, and Rutabagas
Benefits: High in Beta-Carotene, Potassium, and Vitamin C, reduce age-related macula degeneration, prostate cancer, and promote collagen formation and healthy joints

Green: Artichokes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Green Apples, Green Beans, Green Cabbage and Green Grapes
Benefits: High in Chlorophyll, Fiber and Calcium, reduce risk of cancers, normalize digestion time, and boost immune system

Blue/Purple: Blackberries, Blueberries, Plums, Purple Cabbage, and Raisins
Benefits: Rich in the antioxidants, boost immune system activity, support healthy digestion, improve calcium and other mineral absorption, and fight inflammation

The following websites were used in answering the question:

Monday, October 23, 2017


“Farm-to-Table” is a current food trend.  What should you consider when deciding to purchase “Farm-to-Table” food?

Farm-to-Table is generally regarded as a social movement that promotes serving/consuming locally grown food at restaurants through direct procurement from the producer.  It often incorporates a form of food traceability allowing consumers to know where the food originated.

When thinking about “Farm-to-Table”, here are a couple things to keep mind:
  1. All food originates from a farm, a grove, fishery, etc
  2. Not all foods can be locally sourced
  3. Locally sourced food may be of lesser quality due to limitations in the local growing conditions
  4. Finally, a recent Tampa, Florida study found the majority of restaurants promoting “Farm-to-Table” were not actually purchasing locally sourced food

If you want to implement, consider the following options:
1) When dining out:
         Ask the server or chef about food labeled as “Farm-to-Table”
         Restaurants charge a premium for “Farm-to-Table” food items.  Does the menu price seem right?
         Consider the local growing season.  There are fewer “Farm-to-Table” options in winter

2) Better yet, eat at home because it is cheaper, healthier and you can dictate the source.  When dining at home:
         Shop at locally owned grocery stores, butcher shops, etc
         Ask the store where the food actually came from and when it was purchased
         Purchase produce that is in season
         Limit purchases of processed and packaged food

The following website was used in answering the question:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Recently, on a health radio show, the host commented that ~75% of all forms of cancer are preventable.  What can you tell me about this statement?

There is debate about recent cancer prevention studies.

         2008 research suggested that 5 to 10% of all cancer cases were attributed to genetic defects and the remaining 90–95% were attributed to environment and lifestyle.

         A more recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology suggests that maintaining a healthy lifestyle decreases cancer deaths by 67% for men and 59% for women and drops the occurrence of new cancers by 41% in women and 63% in men.

Again there is debate on the percentages, but there is no debate that better lifestyle and environment habits are important to reducing the cancer risk.

Better lifestyle and environment habits include:
         Eliminate tobacco use (25–30% of cancer deaths are tied to tobacco use)
         Better diets (30–35% of cancer deaths are tied to poor diets / obesity)
        Moderate use of alcohol
        Consume more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
        Limit meat consumption / consume lean cuts of meat
        Reduce consumption of processed or packaged foods
         Exercise 75 to 150 minutes a week
         Improve body composition
         Use sun screen and minimize exposure to environmental pollutants

The following websites were used in answering the question:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Blood Vessels

Q:  What are the differences between veins, arteries, and capillaries?  What are varicose veins and what are the causes?

A:  The cardiovascular system consists of the heart, blood vessels, and blood.  The blood vessels transport oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and cellular waste products throughout the body.  The three main blood vessels are arteries, veins, and capillaries.  The chart below details the primary differences between these vessels.


-Carries oxygenated blood 
away from the heart

-No valves

-High pressure

-Thick walls and muscle fiber
to withstand pressure


-Carries de-oxygenated blood
to the heart


-Low pressure

-Thin walls and muscle fiber
due to low pressure


-Fed from arteries

-Smallest and thinnest vessel

-Most common vessel

-Supplies oxygenated blood to tissues 
of the body

Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins that form near the surface of the skin and are most common in the lower extremities.  As noted above, veins have valves to ensure de-oxygenated blood flows away from the tissue and back to the heart.

Varicose veins form for various reasons but the most common causes are due to vein valve deterioration, vein muscle weakening due to age, and pregnancy.  Instead of flowing back to your heart, the blood starts to pool in your veins which causes them to become enlarged. The veins appear blue because of the de-oxygenated blood.

The following websites were used as references in answering the question:

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sunscreen Application

With summer upon us, I have started to apply sunscreen.  What does the SPF rating mean (e.g. SPF 30)?

Not only are we well into summer, but May was also Skin Cancer Awareness Month.  So, it is a great time to understand the sunscreen ratings.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.  It refers to the theoretical amount of time one can be in the sun without getting sunburn.  The number that follows the SPF acronym indicates how much longer one can stay in the sun without getting sunburn.

If you normally start to get sunburn in 10 minutes, applying a sunscreen of SPF 30 would allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer or a total of 300 minutes (10 minutes x 30 = 300 minutes or five hours).

However, SPF is a theoretical amount of time.  If you are outside working, exercising, or just sweating, the actual amount of time the sunscreen will block the sun is much less.  For this reason, it is recommended that sunscreen be applied every two hours.

Which SPF is best (15, 30, 50, or 100)?  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30.  The higher the SPF the more sunrays that are blocked and the longer you can stay in the sun.  However, due to theoretical versus actual time discrepancy and the fact that higher SPF has more chemicals, some dermatologists recommend a SPF of 30 or 50 with liberal application every two hours.

The final sunscreen advice to keep in mind:  No SPF sunscreen can replace the sun blocking ability of sun protecting clothing, umbrellas, or shelters.

The following website was used in answering the question:

Friday, July 28, 2017


Too much sodium in your diet is bad.  Can you have too little sodium in your diet?  What are the side effects?

A low blood sodium level is called Hyponatremia.

Common reasons for Hyponatremia:
         Excess water in the body which dilutes the normal sodium concentration
        From consuming large amounts of water during strenuous exercise
        From chronic diseases like kidney failure or heart failure that lead to water retention
         Prolonged sodium loss due to sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea
         Medical conditions such as Cirrhosis or Addison's disease
         Or medications such as diuretics

Side effects of prolonged/chronic Hyponatremia:
         Muscle cramps
         Diminish mental acuteness

Notice that a regular diet low in sodium is not a common reason for Hyponatremia.  As a matter of fact, the CDC has concluded that 90% of children and 89% of adults in the United States consume more than the recommended limits for sodium.  The main culprits are eating out, processed food, and pre-packaged foods.  Too little sodium from nutritional habits is usually not an issue.

The following websites were used in answering the question: