Fourth of July Safety

Can you believe that it’s Fourth of July weekend already?  Many people will be getting togetfireworks-dc-56a236c45f9b58b7d0c7f731her to enjoy celebrations and valuable time with friends and family over the long weekend.  There will be much fun to be had in communities and towns all over the country.  We hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday and also a safe one.  Below are some safety tips to keep in mind to make sure your holiday is fun and without any incidents.

 

  • It is best to view fireworks at a public event
    since these shows are managed by professionals.
  • If you do decide to have fireworks at home, make sure they are never given to children, that there is water nearby, that fireworks are never pointed towards any person or animal, and that you never try to relight a dud firework.
  • Barbecue grills should always be supervised while in use.
  • Never grill indoors.
  • Use tools with long handles that are specially made for the grill.
  • If you are heading to the beach or pool, make sure you check weather conditions.
  • Do not swim while under the influence of alcohol and do not swim alone.
  • Ensure that children do not dive headfirst into shallow water or water of unknown depth.
  • Beware of rip currents if visiting the ocean.
  • Wear sunscreen when outdoors to protect your skin.
  • Stay hydrated and be sure to drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty at the time.
  • Pets can become frightened with the sounds of fireworks.  Make sure your pets are safe and secure inside.

We hope that these tips help ensure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday.  We wish you lots of fun and time with loved ones!

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How to Make it Easier to Spring Ahead

Over the weekend Daylight Saving Time took an hour of sleep away from us.  While many people enjoy the extra light in the evenings, it often takes people a few days to adjust to the change.  Here are some tips to help you ease into the time change.

  • clock-alarm-clock-bell-dial-38297If you feel sleepy in the afternoon after the time change, go ahead and take a short nap if possible.  Just do not time this too close to bedtime.  Try to avoid sleeping in an extra hour in the morning and give your internal clock some time to adjust.
  • Now is a good time to start a habit that will help you far beyond Daylight Saving Time – try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.  While getting some extra sleep on weekends is tempting, regulating your sleep schedule will help you get the most out of the time you are asleep and help make falling asleep and waking easier.
  • Dim lights in the evening and open curtains when you wake up.  You can also take advantage of dimmer switches to keep your light level less bright in the evening.  This will help relax you in the hours leading up to bedtime.
  •  Exercise at some point during the day.  Even something as simple as walking can lead to better sleep.
  •  Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.  Though alcohol may make you sleepy, it can interfere with your sleep cycle.  Also avoid large meals too close to bedtime.
  • Come up with a bedtime ritual to help you relax and get sleepy before bed.  This might include a warm bath, reading, or soft music.

Following these tips will not only help you ease through the Daylight Saving Time transition, but they are good practices to follow all year long to promote better sleep quality.

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How to Find Reliable Health Information Online

We’ve all done it, you have pain or a symptom that you’re concerned about and the easiest laptop-small-500x333resource to go to is at your fingertips- Dr. Google.  The internet has so much information it’s difficult to know what to trust.

What websites can you trust?

  1. Sites that end in .gov like cdc.gov or cancer.gov. These are linked to federal agencies that address research and training needs for health care topics.
  1. Non-profit sites that end in .org like familydoctor.org are often powered by a reputable organization, such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, so you know your source is credible.
  1. Websites from trusted medical institutions, like Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, have detailed information about many health conditions, symptoms, treatment options and more.
  1. Look for the HON code symbol at the bottom of the website which means the website has been certified for its credibility by the Health On the Net Foundation, a non-governmental organization that certifies health and medical websites.

Red flags to look for:

  1. Websites that are not authoritative sources and don’t cite their facts
  1. One-sided, biased or outdated information
  1. Claims of a miracle or secret cure based on testimonials

If you have a medical concern, the internet can provide useful background information to help you make informed decisions, but always consult a physician to be diagnosed. Don’t base your medical decisions solely on what you find online or what friends tell you.

Talk to your physician before making any changes to your medications or treatment.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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Three Myths About Sleep Aids

Sleep plays a vital role in your health and overall quality of life. The amount of sleep you get can impact your relationships, job performance and overall happiness. Insomnia is fairly common. Nearly 50 percent of Americans report occasional insomnia, and almost 20 percent struggle with it every night.sleeping-man

In our quest for some shut-eye, we sometimes sabotage our own sleep. If you are relying on any of the methods below, you could be inadvertently robbing yourself of sleep.

Having a “nightcap” before bed

It’s a long-standing misconception that alcohol helps you sleep. While a nightcap might help you feel sleepy, as the alcohol metabolizes in your system, it really messes with your ability to stay asleep. Alcohol before bedtime will cause recurrent awakenings and suppresses the rehabilitative stage of sleep, known as REM. Don’t cheat yourself; avoid alcohol before bed.

Watching TV to fall asleep

Watching TV or using your phone in bed is one of the worst things you can do when trying to fall asleep. It’s all tied to the blue light emitted by these screens. It prevents the release of melatonin from the pineal gland in your brain, which is what makes you feel sleepy. This is especially a problem for adolescents who take their phones to bed with them.

Using sleeping pills

Long-term reliance on sleeping pills is not the answer to your sleep problems. While it is OK to take an over-the-counter sleep aid if you’re having a few nights of bad sleep, you should not be relying on it nightly. If you are taking sleeping pills, try to wean yourself off of them slowly by lowering the dose and then start to reduce the number of days that you take it. If your sleep troubles persist after two to four weeks, talk to your doctor.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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Why Your 2017 Goal Should Be Behavior Change, Not Losing

change-your-mind-to-lose-weight-500x334Instead of making lofty promises to lose weight this New Year, you can be much more successful if you focus on changing your behavior.  The reason most resolutions aren’t achieved, or are only short-lived, is because we don’t define how exactly our behavior will change.  Our goals are often vague, unstructured or don’t define actionable steps.

Set SMART Goals

The most effective goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. For example, if your primary desire is to lose weight, a SMART goal would be to keep a food journal and write down everything you eat, each day, for a week.

Once you have your SMART goal, take steps to monitor your behavior and adjust as necessary.

Plan For Slips

It would be unrealistic if we didn’t anticipate slips, or lapses, as we work on building new behavior. The most important thing is not to be hard on yourself when slips happen. Reflect on what contributed to the slip and find ways to navigate through the challenges.

Reward Yourself

Define what success looks like for you and reward yourself for the behaviors that support your goal. For example, at the end of the week if you met your goal six of the seven days, treat yourself to a movie, pedicure, shopping or whatever you like.

Seek Support

If you find yourself continually coming up short on weight loss goals, or if the idea of starting a weight-loss plan is too overwhelming, you may want to consider enlisting some support. Health care providers can advise you on diet, physical activity and medications that may help.

You may also want to consider a weight management support group. It’s empowering when you are successful and when other people recognize that success.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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3 Easy Ways to Eat More Meals at Home

Most Americans today aren’t following the government’s recommended dietary guidelines. In fact, they’re not eating nearly enough fruits and vegetables, and they istock-460260009-500x333consume too much sodium, sugar and saturated fats. They also go out to eat more often than they should.

Although it is possible to eat healthy away from home, studies have shown that most people don’t, choosing foods with more calories, fat and saturated fat than what they’d get at home. The USDA Economic Research Service found that restaurant food has a significant impact on caloric intake and diet quality. Meals and snacks from restaurants contain, on average, 134 more calories than the same food prepared at home.

To eat healthier, cook more meals at home. Follow these tips to make food prep a breeze:

Meal Plan

It might take you 15 minutes or so to plan out all the meals you and your family will eat for the week, but at least you won’t be standing in front of the fridge at dinnertime wondering what to eat. By doing so, you’ll also avoid the temptation of going out to eat.  With your list in hand, you can do just one grocery trip for the week to get all you need. Another timesaver!

Sign Up For A Meal Planning Service

You can reduce time spent planning and shopping by paying a meal planning service to do it for you.  Most of these services incorporate well-rounded meals and deliver foods uncooked, with accompanying recipes. Many offer meals to fit special dietary needs as well.

Although some services deliver cooked meals, by seeing the raw ingredients you can be sure of exactly what you are eating. This is a fun way to try new foods and eat more veggies.

Pack Your Lunch

Brown bagging it is an easy way to ensure a healthy lunch and reduce your caloric intake. In fact, eating fewer lunches out will save you, on average, 158 calories per lunch. But don’t get in a turkey sandwich rut. Consider packing healthy leftovers, salads, bento box-style lunches and more to keep things fun! Just search online for “lunch box planning” and you will have no shortage of fresh ideas.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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Home Remedies – Do They Work?

For centuries, people have turned to natural remedies to fight common ailments such as colds, stomach aches and skin conditions.  This home-remediestrend has continued to the present day. Nearly four out of 10 adults have used some form of alternative remedy, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

As appealing as the idea of natural remedies might sound, keep in mind that not all remedies are safe and effective. Let’s take a look at some remedies backed by research.

WHAT WORKS

  • Apple cider vinegar & honey (as a therapy for sore throats): Honey, a common sore-throat remedy, has antibacterial properties and also acts as a hypertonic osmotic, which means that it draws water out of inflamed tissue, reducing swelling and discomfort. There is not enough data on the effectiveness of vinegar, however.

 

  • Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast (as a cure for diarrhea): The “BRAT diet” has been proven to help people recover from an upset stomach because these bland foods are easy to digest and have a small amount of fiber, which helps make your stool firmer.

 

  • Chicken soup (for colds and flu): Chicken soup has long been a go-to remedy and recent science is showing why. Chicken soup helps mitigate inflammation in the upper respiratory tract to help you breathe a little easier. It is also superior to other hot liquids in clearing mucus from nasal passages to ease congestion.

 

  • Cranberry juice (as a cure for urinary tract infections): An active ingredient in cranberries can prevent adherence of bacteria, particularly E.coli, to the bladder wall. However, most studies show that juice and supplements don’t have enough of this ingredient. The bottom line? Cranberry can’t hurt, and it may help.

 

  • Peppermint (as a remedy for nausea): Peppermint oil and peppermint tea both relax the stomach muscles and relieve nausea after surgery. They can also ease morning sickness and soothe menstrual cramps.

 

  • Turmeric (as a pain reliever for arthritis): Turmeric is a common spice in dishes like curry. It can help to reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

 

  • Prunes (as a remedy for constipation): Prunes are rich in insoluble fiber, as well as the natural laxative sorbitol, which is proven to help with constipation.

Just because a remedy is natural does not mean it can’t cause harm. Talk to your doctor about any supplements you are taking to ensure there is no interaction with medications or pre-existing conditions. When using home remedies, if symptoms persist or worsen, seek professional help from your doctor.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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