- Created on 14 September 2012
A brighter smile and fresh breath are wonderful things to have, but experts are learning more and more about the surprising health benefits of a clean mouth.
By now, you've probably heard that brushing regularly can help fight heart disease. But did you know it can help prevent certain types of cancers, too?
Breast Cancer. As science continues to discover a very clear link between oral health and overall health, more and more studies are being conducted that explore different parts of the body. The latest study out of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden suggests that women may be over 11 times more likely to develop breast cancer if they have missing teeth and gum disease. Since this is one of the first studies of its kind, more research needs to be done to back up the results, but so far they seem to be on track with the current findings that poor dental hygiene can directly affect your general health.
Heart Disease & Stroke. A variety of studies have established that inflammation and bacteria in the mouth and gums can find its way into the bloodstream, leading to thickening of the arteries and increasing the risk of a heart attack; while fatty plaques that build up on the inside of the vessels can break off, go to the brain and cause a stroke.
Need further convincing? One recent study published in the British Medical Journal analyzed data from over 11,000 adults and determined that participants who reported brushing their teeth less frequently had a 70% increased risk of heart disease versus those who brushed twice daily. So do your heart a favor and brush up on good dental hygiene.
A Healthy Pregnancy. If you're pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant it's more important than ever to stay on top of your oral health. Due to hormonal fluctuations and the increased blood flow throughout your body during pregnancy, you are more likely to notice changes in your teeth and gums. According to the American Academy of Periodontists, about fifty percent of pregnant women develop gingivitis, a condition that leaves gums inflamed, bleeding, swollen, or tender. Left unchecked it can lead to periodontal disease, a serious infection that could create problems in the delivery room. While research is still being done, several studies suggest there is a direct relationship between infected bacteria in your mouth and premature deliveries, low-birth rate, and preeclampsia. To be safe, be diligent about brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist, and make sure to alert her to any pain or problems that pop up over the nine months.
Diabetes. Doctors have long known that Type 2 diabetics have an increased occurrence of periodontal disease, but it turns out preventing gum infections may stave off diabetes in the first place. A recent study out of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health that followed 9,296 nondiabetic participants over 20 years found that people who had higher levels of periodontal disease had twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with low levels or no gum infections.
Although further research is needed to determine the exact reason, one theory proposes that serious oral infections can lead to low-grade inflammation throughout your body and that inflammation may destroy your ability to process sugar.
Respiratory Infections. Keeping your mouth clean and healthy can also help keep your lungs protected according to a recent study in the Journal of Periodontology. In a pool of 200 participants aged 20 to 60, researchers found that patients suffering from a respiratory illness such as pneumonia, acute bronchitis, an upper respiratory infection, or COPD had poorer periodontal health than those in the control group. The reason for this association likely lies in the bacteria caused by periodontal disease, which forms in the upper throat. From there it can easily be inhaled into the lower respiratory tract and can obstruct breathing or develop into more serious lung-related problems.
- Created on 16 September 2012
Unfortunate fact⎯African Americans, more than any other racial group, are more likely to become affected by HIV/AIDS. Since it was first discovered in the early 1980s, the face of HIV/AIDS has changed shifted from gay predominately white men and now is now a face of color. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), African Americans represent only 14 percent of the U.S. population, but account more than 44 percent of HIV/AIDS cases.
Los Angeles-based the Black AIDS Institute has decided to spearhead an analysis of the recent International AIDS Day event that took place this summer in Washington, D.C. A sixteen-city tour ⎯ "Ending AIDS in Black Communities" ⎯ hit those urban areas heavily populated with African Americans as a result of the analysis. The "Post AIDS 2012" updates are geared at having a conversation and educating the community about what was learned.
Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, said these community updates are incredibly crucial to offsetting HIV/AIDS in African Americans. Wilson, who has suffered from HIV for 32 years, added that people need to go, get tested and become proactive about treatment if positive.
"AIDS is still a major problem in the black community," Wilson told the Defender.
More than 21,000 Chicagoans are living with HIV/AIDS, 71 percent of which are minorities, according to AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Women represented three out of every four HIV cases in Illinois.
Wilson suggested that those living with AIDS pay close attention to the Affordable Healthcare Act introduced by President Barack Obama. The ramifications of doing away with act would affect millions.
"Get involved with this election," Wilson said. More than 25 million people, some of which are infected with HIV, he said. And the 39 percent of new cases under 25, would still be able to seek out medicines that could make their viral load seem undetectable similar to high profile cases like Magic Johnson under the healthcare bill.
"We need to start advocating on a federal and state level immediately to fully implement an Affordable Care Act containing the components necessary to serve the needs of people living with HIV," Wilson said.
While the state of HIV/AIDS treatment has changed as science progressed. But at one point Wilson said that he knew someone who was dying from the disease everyday.
That's one of the main reasons he became more active in HIV/AIDS advocacy.
"No one is going to die on my watch," Wilson said.
- Created on 13 September 2012
Always tired? Feel like you’re running on empty? Well, join the club, as an increasing numbers of us are suffering from constant fatigue.
For all ages, balancing home, work or children can be tiring and deplete energy levels. This is especially so as we age. Food sources such as sugar and caffeine may give you a temporary energy fix, but that lasts only so long, as most of us know. In addition, skipping daily exercises or over scheduling your day can also drain you.
Is your life too tiring?
Do you demand too much of yourself? If yes: try to manage stress; learn to say no; set priorities; pace yourself. Take time each day to simply relax, perhaps using a tape or relaxation class. Consider whether there is a good balance of work and play in your life and what you can do about it. If necessary, you may want to reconsider what you want from life.
Have you been affected recently by a stressful event?
If yes: Be realistic, and be kind to yourself. Events such as moving house, having a baby, starting a new job, being bereaved or ending an important relationship can be exhausting, especially when you feel you have no control over what’s happening. Don’t expect to be back to your normal self overnight. Remember; all progress is good, however small or unimportant it may seem to you at the time.
Following are some guidelines to help you find more energy in your daily life:
Organize your time
Using your time efficiently will help reduce your stress levels as well giving you more energy to tackle tasks with gusto. Having a never-ending jobs list with no deadlines and therefore no end in sight, will only zap your energy before you even start. So list all of your jobs to do a day at a time and highlight those you must do each day and those that could, at a pinch, form tomorrow’s list. Cross them off as you do them for maximum satisfaction.
As you age, do not lose sight of what you love to do. Whether it is picnics in the park, or enjoying theater shows, you don’t have to give up your passions as you get older. Continuing to do the things you love will fill you with energy. Get rid of your energy drainers and implement more energy enhancers and you will be well on your way to living a long, energetic life.
Energy Boosting Foods
Although your calorie requirements decrease with age, you need energy-boosting foods to keep up with activities, enjoy family, remain independent and fight off illness. To help you make the most of your nutritional intake, energy foods should provide multiple benefits. Focus on nutrient-dense proteins and complex carbohydrates that are low in calories, sodium and saturated fat to keep your heart healthy and your stamina high.
Is regular exercise part of your daily life?
If no: Begin to change that. If you are unfit, start with 10 minutes of moderate physical activity each day and build up to at least 30 minutes. It may seem counter-intuitive, but aerobic exercise is an excellent way to counter fatigue.
To mix things up a bit, why not try alternative exercise?Yoga should leave you feeling energetic and Tai Chi is said to improve the flow of energy through your body. Both are excellent ways to stay in shape, ease stress and feel more buoyant. Any exercises that stretch your muscles will encourage blood flow and can help increase energy levels.
Are you drinking too much?
If yes: cut down on the booze. It acts as a sedative, and even small amounts can make you tired for hours.
Are you sleeping well?
If no: practice good sleep habits. Avoid eating, reading or watching television while in bed. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet, and set the alarm to get up at the same time each day – a routine will help you to establish a regular schedule. Staying in bed all day will not help.
Check Hormone Levels
Many older women develop an imbalance in their hormones which can lead to lack of energy. It is encouraged that all women over 40 to take a blood test to check their hormone levels.
- Created on 14 September 2012
ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (AP) — One student complains because his cafeteria no longer serves chicken nuggets. Another gripes that her school lunch just isn't filling. A third student says he's happy to eat an extra apple with his lunch, even as he's noshing on his own sub.
Leaner, greener school lunches served under new federal standards are getting mixed grades from students piling more carrots, more apples and fewer fatty foods on their trays.
"Now they're kind of forcing all the students to get the vegetables and fruit with their lunch, and they took out chicken nuggets this year, which I'm not too happy about," said Chris Cimino, a senior at Mohonasen High School in upstate New York.
Lunch lines at schools across the country cut through the garden now, under new U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition standards. Mohonasen students selecting pizza sticks this week also had to choose something from the lunch line's cornucopia of apples, bananas, fresh spinach and grape tomatoes, under the standards. Calorie counts are capped, too.
Most students interviewed in this suburban district near Schenectady seemed to accept the new lunch rules, reactions in line with what federal officials say they're hearing elsewhere. Still, some active teens complain the meals are too skimpy. And while you can give a kid a whole-wheat pita, you can't make him like it.
"I was just trying to eat it so I wouldn't be hungry later on," Marecas Wilson said of his pita sandwich served this week at Eastside Elementary in Clinton, Miss.
Though the fifth-grader judged his pita "nasty," he conceded: "The plum was very good."
Kim Gagnon, food service director in the Mohonasen district, said while students generally have been receptive to the fruits and vegetables, "we have noticed that kids are throwing it out or giving it to friends, leaving it on counters, so we haven't quite gotten there yet."
The guidelines approved by the USDA earlier this year set limits on calories and salt and phase in whole grains. Schools must offer at least one vegetable or fruit per meal. They can still serve chocolate milk, but it has to be nonfat.
The biggest update to federal school-food guidelines in 15 years might please parents who recall washing down cheeseburgers and tater tots with full-fat chocolate milk. In Pueblo, Colo., Megan Murillo said she feels more comfortable letting her first-grader, Sophie, eat cafeteria-prepared lunches knowing there are more vegetable and whole grains.
Reactions in schools so far this fall have been positive, according to Kevin Concannon, the USDA's undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.
"I don't mind it because I always got the extra apple and fruit and veggies and all that," said Anthony Sicilia, a senior at Mohonasen, who nonetheless was eating a Subway sub for lunch. "But I think it's good because it actually forces kids to eat healthy."
But new guidelines or no, many kids are still picky eaters.
In Clinton, Miss., the elementary students served flatbread roast beef sandwiches with grated cheese ate most of the meat but left large chunks of whole-wheat pita. Most plums were gnawed to the pits, and several salads were half eaten.
"I liked the meat but not this," fifth-grader Kenmari Williams said, pointing to his pita. "Every time you eat it, you get something white on your hands."
One thornier complaint is that the new lunches are too little for active teens now that the calorie range for high school lunches is 750 to 850. Rachelle Chinn, a freshman from Clarence, Mo., who plays softball, said school lunches are now so slight it once left her with a headache.
"The fruits and vegetables are good at first but once they wear off, I get hungry," she said. "It's just not enough to get me through the day."
Her mom, Chris Chinn, now packs her protein-heavy snacks like peanut butter crackers and granola bars. Chinn, a critic of what she calls the "one size fits all" standards, said many athletes aren't getting enough to eat. Similarly, Katie Pinke in Wishek, N.D., gave up on school lunches for her strapping freshman son Hunter and packs him meaty sandwiches.
Hunter is a 6-foot-5-inch, 210-pound football player who, based on his size and active lifestyle, needs more than 4,700 calories daily to maintain his weight. He said lunches topping out at 850 calories aren't enough.
"I think it's kind of ridiculous that people say how much we get to eat when there are a lot of kids that are big," Hunter said. "When we can't have our meat and bread, for a guy especially, it's not fun."
Concannon noted the calorie ranges are adjusted for age, increasing as students move from elementary to middle to high school. If some children need more, Concannon said, schools have the option of offering an afternoon snack or parents can send snacks from home.
"If you look at colleges in the United States, if you've ever looked at the tables where they're feeding just the football players. Good God ... If you emulated that, we'd all be wearing size 48 suits by our 20s," he said. "You have to use common sense."
And just weeks into the school year, it's probably too early for final grades. In Mississippi, Keba Laird, child nutrition supervisor for the Clinton district, said she is phasing in the nutritional changes to help children grow accustomed to eating healthier.
"We don't want a revolt on our hands," she said. "We want them to enjoy eating with us."
Associated Press writers Emily Wagster Pettus in Clinton, Miss., Kristen Wyatt in Denver and Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
Eastside Elementary school fourth grader Raela Bridges, nine, right, explains what parts of the school lunch she likes to her classmates Grace Bethany, left, Cameron Kinard, back left, and Brock Maddox, back right, all nine, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in Clinton, Miss. While much consideration goes into the planning of these school children's lunches, the children have their own strong opinions about what items they prefer to eat. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
- Created on 13 September 2012
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's Board of Health opened up a new, experimental front in the war on obesity Thursday, passing a rule banning sales of big sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, concession stands, and other eateries.
The regulation, which was proposed in the spring by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and approved by panel of health experts after several months of review, puts a 16-ounce size limit on cups and bottles of non-diet soda, sweetened teas, and other calorie-packed beverages.
The ban will apply in fast-food joints, movie houses and Broadway theaters, workplace cafeterias, and most other places selling prepared food.
It doesn't cover beverages sold in supermarkets or most convenience stores.
The restaurant and beverage industries have assailed the plan is misguided. They say the city's health experts are exaggerating the role sugary beverages have played in making Americans fat.
One board member, Dr. Sixto R. Caro, abstained from voting. The other 8 board members voted yes.
"I am still skeptical. . This is not comprehensive enough," Caro said.
Some New Yorkers have also ridiculed the rule as a gross government intrusion and tens of thousands signed a petition, circulated by the industry, voicing their opposition.
The unprecedented regulation would follow other ambitious health moves on Bloomberg's watch.
Some have proven to be national pacesetters, such as making chain restaurants post calorie counts prominently on their menus; McDonald's announced Wednesday that it would start displaying the information nationwide next week, before a federal requirement that could force all major chains to do so next year.
New York City also has barred artificial trans fats from restaurant food and taken aggressive steps to discourage smoking. Starting this month, dozens of city hospitals are asking mothers of newborns to listen to talks about why they should breast-feed instead of using formula.
Bloomberg and other advocates for the soda plan — who include a roster of doctors and such food figures as chef Jamie Oliver — see it as another pioneering step for public health.
They say the proposal strikes at a leading cause of obesity simply by giving people a built-in reason to stop at 16 ounces: 200 calories, if it's a regular Coke, compared to 240 in a 20-ounce size. For someone who drinks a soda a day, the difference amounts to 14,600 calories a year, or the equivalent of 70 Hershey bars, enough to add about four pounds of fat to a person's body.
Beyond the numbers, some doctors and nutrition experts say the proposal starts a conversation that could change attitudes toward overeating. While there are many factors in obesity, "ultimately it does come down to culture, and it comes down to taking some first steps," said Dr. Jeffrey Mechanick, a Mount Sinai School of Medicine professor who has studied the effect of government regulation on the obesity epidemic.
Soda makers and sellers say the plan unfairly singles out soft drinks as culprits for the nation's fat problem, represents an overweening government effort to regulate behavior and is so patchy as to be pointless. Because of the web of who regulates what, it would affect a belly-buster regular soda sold at a sports arena but not a 7-Eleven Big Gulp, for instance.
An average New Yorker goes to the movies about four times per year and buys concessions only twice, said Sun Dee Larson, a spokeswoman for the AMC Theatres chain.
"We firmly believe the choices made during the other 363 days have a much greater impact on public health," she said in a statement.
Thursday's vote is unlikely to be the final word on the proposal.
A soft-drink industry sponsored group called New Yorkers for Beverage Choices — which says it has gathered more than 250,000 signatures on petitions opposing the soda plan ‚Äî is considering a lawsuit and exploring legislative options for challenging the plan if it passes, spokesman Eliot Hoff said. It's not clear what legislative routes there may be: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said Wednesday she's not interested in trying to block the expected health board vote, though she has said she isn't a fan of the soda idea.
The rule wouldn't apply to lower-calorie drinks, such as water or diet soda, or to alcoholic beverages or drinks that are more than half milk or 70 percent juice.
Enforcement would be conducted by an existing corps of city restaurant inspectors. A violation would lead to a $200 fine.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.