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April is National Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder individuals struggle with worldwide.   The disease can be difficult to diagnose, because there are no physical signs, or specific testing that can be done to confirm IBS.  Therefore, the diagnosis is a process of ruling out other conditions.  Women are more frequently diagnosed with the disease than men, but the reasons are unknown.

This disease is characterized by symptoms that last for at least 6 months and involve belly pain for at least 3 days in a month, for at least 3 months.  If you have two of the following symptoms you may have IBS:

  • Changes in bowel movement patterns (diarrhea or constipation, and change in structure)
  • Bloating and excess gas
  • Pain in lower belly
  • Mucus in stools

What causes IBS? 

The cause is not fully understood; however, there may be possible factors like genetics, prior infections, trauma, as well as, alterations in bowel bacteria, and increased intestinal inflammation.

How to manage IBS?

Lifestyle changes are important in managing IBS. These include the following:

  • Reducing stress
  • Hypnosis
  • Acupuncture
  • Exercise

Can Nutrition and Supplements help with IBS?

Nutrition plays a role in managing all disease including IBS.  First, avoid trigger foods, and stimulants (caffeine, tobacco), and non-nutritive sweeteners (sorbitol and Xylitol).   Supplements can help with managing the disease, turmeric, peppermint oil and probiotics, have been show to improve symptoms of IBS.  Probiotics help with building health bacteria in the gut, so they are something you want to take on a daily bases.  Not all supplements are created equally, verify the quality and select those with the most scientific research backing their benefits.

Inflammation Management ABCs

Inflammation is the root of all disease, and controlling it will help reduce symptoms.  Start with increasing fiber to feed healthy bacteria, add fish oil to help reduce inflammation, and add a food supplement supported by clinical trials that reduces inflammation.  Our experience has shown that Juice Plus+ is backed by clinical trials that support its inflammation busting properties, as well as studies that verify its support for healthy DNA, among numerous other health benefits.  Learn more about the product on our website under the nutrition tab.

 

ibs-statistics

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March is National Nutrition Month! Time to Savor the Flavor of Eating Right!

March is National Nutrition Month!  The theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” which focuses on enjoying food traditions, the pleasures that come from great flavors and the social experiences centered on food.

Food is a large part of all cultures and socially it connects people of all ages.  Traditionally, families gathered at meal time to spend time sharing the stories of the day.  Today, these gatherings are less often, but their importance has not changed.  Every important social gathering includes food and every culture uses a blend of local foods, herbs and spices at special gatherings.   Having a large garden to grow and process fresh produce is difficult for most individuals, but the benefits that come from growing some of your own food is priceless.

We see in countries, like Japan, children learning early how to grown, cook and prepare food. Their early experience with food encourages their connection with the food process and healthy food choices throughout their lives.  In America, some children have access to freshly grown foods, but many still lag behind in understanding the garden to table food process.   Seeing something grow, and then preparing it for dinner is a fun learning experience.  Plus, adding the benefit of understanding how food impacts our health helps children understand — why food choices matter.  Unmistakably, having a garden with veggies, herbs and spices, (traditional or a tower style), talking about healthy foods, and developing dishes that involve children early on, will encourage them to make better food choices for life.

Today, children and adults are dealing with illnesses caused and made worse by poor food choices.  We see the statistics on childhood obesity which has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.  The health effects for the young included those linked to cardiovascular disease; such as, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.  Also, they are more likely to have prediabetes, bone and joint problems, and sleep apnea, among other health issues.    Making smarter food choices, and selecting and preparing whole foods that are rich in nutrients today, provides the framework for wise food choices in the future.

Steps to help you and your family have a healthy heart, brain, and body, plus feel better all over; begin with the following choices:

  • limit saturated and trans fats (i.e. beef, pork, hotdogs);
  • limit carbs (white rice, potatoes, corn, sugar and sweets of all types);
  • eat omega-3 fatty acids (i.e. fish, walnuts, lake trout, tuna, flaxseed and soybean oil);
  • consume vitamin E rich foods, (i.e. seeds, nuts, whole grains, avocado, peanut butter);
  • eat dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collard greens, spinach, broccoli);
  • eat berries (i.e. blueberries, strawberries, acai berries);
  • add herbs and spices (i.e. cinnamon, chili peppers, turmeric, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary);
  • eat organic, non GMO foods when possible.

Today is the first day to make the changes that will impact your life and the life of those you love.  In truth, it’s never too late to get involved in healthy food choices.  Make growing, selecting and preparing food a family event that involves children, parents, grandparents and others.  Create and cook healthy family recipes that are shared and passed down and continue sharing the message of what you eat and consume matters.  Make learning about the health benefits of foods, spices and herbs a fun family activity and the knowledge will last a lifetime for generations to come.

 

 

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Be Heart and Brain Smart! Month of Heart Health Awareness

February is Heart Health Awareness Month!  The American Heart Association recommends that you adopt a long-term, heart-healthy “food lifestyle” and exercise.  Bonus time, once you do that, you have a double win, because these same foods will support a healthy brain.  Yes, the two are connected!  Simple smart food choices will reduce your risks for strokes and other diseases.  Strokes develop because of compromised blood flow to the brain (by a clot or hemorrhage) and despite the severity they are linked to dementia.  Brain autopsy studies on deceased individuals with dementia found microvascular infarcts, either alone or along with the plagues and tangles, such as those associated with Alzheimer’s.   With the facts on the table, it’s clear that the best defense against heart and brain disease are healthy food choices and exercise.  What are the healthiest food choices? Well, the first choice for many is the “Mediterranean diet,” but what is it really?   Let’s look at the basics.

  • Eat Mainly:Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Eat in Moderation:Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
  • Eat Only Rarely:Red meat.
  • Don’t Eat:Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods

What about exercise and its role in a healthy heart and your brain?  For starters, research backs the mind and body connection.  It appears that exercise benefits one’s cognition (reasoning and perception), particularly in areas of executive functioning, associated with improvements in attention, working memory and the ability to multitask.  So, what happens to the brain when we work out?  First, exercise triggers the production of a protein called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” or BDNF.  This protein helps support the growth of existing brain cells and the development of new ones!  As we age, the BDNF levels decline, exercise regardless of age, increases the BNDF process.  In addition to this, blood flow which carries oxygen and feeds neural tissues, increase in brain.  So the best advice for living to a healthy old age is to eat healthy and exercise.  The good news, is that you can begin a healthy lifestyle today by making smart and healthy food choices and adding exercise to your daily routine.    Stay tune – next month is Nutrition Awareness Month, and we have tons of tips to keep you healthy – and change your life!

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Personal Response Safety Service’s (PERS) units allows seniors remain independent.

Personal Emergency Response Service’s (PERS) units help seniors remain independent.  Teaching senior’s home safety techniques and providing home fall safety checks is in the forefront of keeping seniors independently at home for as long as possible.  Studies show that seniors want to be home and they strive when they know they are safe in their own environment.   In addition to providing a quality aide to care for a senior, having an additional safety tool, such as a Personal Response Services (PERS) unit adds an extra level of safety.   One of the leading personal emergency response services is “Be Safer at Home” and we have partnered with them to offer our clients a variety of products that best suit their needs, at a discount.

Different types of (PERS) units are available depending in the needs and limitations of the senior.  The units can be worn around the neck or on the wrist.  Some of these units are activated through motion, so if a senior falls and is unconscious or has a stroke and unable to move to activate a button, the devise will activate automatically.   Certain units allow seniors to travel with extra security because the devise can be activated while traveling.

Medications are another safety concern for seniors and their care givers.  They can forget to take them or forget they took them, which causes either an under or over dose.  A devise that monitors their medication is also available.  This devise will dispense the required medication daily, enabling medication monitoring by the senior, family member and aide, to insure the proper dose is taken on a regular bases.    You can read more about these great products by “Be Safer at Home” at    http://www.besaferathome.com/products.html

 

 

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Should the senior in your life be driving?

Driving requires one’s full attention, despite numerous potential visual, manual and cognitive distractions that can impact anyone at any age.   Let’s take a closer look at the types of distractions that may impact one’s driving:

  1. Visual distractions: taking your eyes off the road.
  2. Manual distractions: taking your hands off the wheel
  3. Cognitive distractions: taking your mind off what you’re doing.

As seniors age, their visual, manual and cognitive skills decline making them more susceptible to distractions.  When you notice these skills slowing down, it’s time to have “the about limiting or stopping driving.”

To help you decide on the timing of taking the keys away, let’s look at some signs that driving may be dangerous.

Risky individual behavior:

  • Does not stop at red lights or stop signs
  • Stops at green lights
  • Gets lost
  • Concerns from people who have seen the senior driving
  • Gets in accidents
  • Problems with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
  • Stroke victim
  • Parkinson’s or severe arthritis
  • Medication due to poor vision, anxiety, insomnia, or is on any form of narcotics.

If the senior can still drive but there are driving safety concerns:

Encourage them to:

  • Drive in areas that are familiar to them
  • Do not drive at night or in bad weather
  • Stay off highways
  • Limit any distractions while driving
  • Set a limit of how far away from home they should drive.
  • Have safety medical alert system with them at all times.

It is important that we keep our seniors and other drivers on the road safe.  These tips can help determine if a senior needs to look at the potential risks and see if they outweigh the benefits of driving.   And, perhaps with some help, they will conclude that it’s time to turn in their license.

 

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New Treatment for Alzheimer’s shows bright future.

Hurray!   New treatment for Alzheimer’s has the potential to change the course of this disease and others.  Previous treatment efforts have focused on a single target (beta-amyloid protein), but now research is targeting a process in the brain that leads to the toxins involved in Alzheimer’s and other diseases.  In Alzheimer’s there is a build-up of two toxic proteins (beta-amyloid and tau), which somehow get folded into the wrong shape, and then kink and link to other proteins floating around the cell. This process triggers a chain reaction of clumps and misfolded beta-amyloid and tau proteins that damage brain cells.  The new approach to treatment involves a compound that targets protein misfolding which prevents both the beta-amyloid and tau from making these clumps.   Currently tests done on mice showed impressive results.  There is a class of monoclonal antibodies that work on the tau and amyloid clumps and when given to mice they were able to reverse the disease.  Equally exciting is that these targeted antibodies work on clumps associated with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.   The future is looking bright for combating all of these diseases!

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/07/19/423891071/alzheimers-drugs-in-the-works-might-help-other-diseases-too

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Managing Alzheimer’s Can be Challenging

Having a loved one who is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease is hard.  It can sometimes be difficult to handle the stress that comes with caring for someone with this disease.   It may be hard to watch them loose their memory, and it can be frustrating having their priorities come above your own.  Important things to remember when helping a loved one, is that Alzheimer’s is so much harder on them. Imagine forgetting to do something as simple as, forgetting to turn the stove off after making a cup of tea or forgetting great memories? That is very frustrating and humiliating. An important thing to remember when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is that your efforts are helpful and that you are not alone.  There are millions of families dealing with the same things you are dealing with.  It is also extremely important to make sure not to neglecting taking time for those things that need to be done.  Taking care of yourself in situations like this is also extremely important.  Also realize that you cannot do it all, that Alzheimer’s is totally out of your control, and finding a balance is very important.  Alzheimer’s can be difficult to manage, but knowing what resources are available and having good coping skills will help with managing the disease.

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