Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Botulism Alert in New Mexico and Texas

The New Mexico Department of Health is cooperating with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on an investigation of two patients who are hospitalized in Texas with suspected botulism. The source is currently being investigated but is likely contaminated food. The patients are two adults from Lea County.
Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal illness caused by a nerve toxin that causes paralysis. All healthcare providers should consider botulism in patients presenting with the following signs and symptoms:
  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness/descending paralysis
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and trunk with subsequent death. Physicians should consider the diagnosis if physical examination suggest botulism.
The New Mexico Department of Health recommends:
  • If you or someone you know experiences any of the symptoms listed above immediately seek professional medical care.
  • All clinicians be alert for cases of botulism and consult New Mexico Department of Health for all suspect cases.
  • Report any suspect case to the Department of Health 24/7/365 at: 505-827-0006 so that antitoxin can be obtained as soon as possible if indicated.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Protect Your Body with Antioxidants

To produce energy, every cell in your body needs a constant supply of oxygen.  For this reason, oxygen is basic to life.  Without oxygen we would die.

There is a down side to oxygen.  When our cells burn oxygen, they form free radicals, or oxygen by-products.  These free radicals can damage body cells and tissues.  Environmental factors such as cigarette and other smoke, and ultra violet light also cause free radicals in your body.  You are familiar with the damage caused by oxygen.  When you expose a cut apple to air the oxygen turns it brown.  This is called oxidation.  If we put vitamin C on the apple in the form of fruit juice, the apple stays white.  Exposure to oxygen also causes oil to go rancid, but if vitamin E is added, the oil does not spoil as quickly.  Free radicals cause oxidation or cell damage in the body.  That may lead to the onset of health problems, such as cancer, artery and heart disease, cataracts, arthritis, and some deterioration that goes with aging.  Antioxidants in your body counteract the effects of free radicals.

Three antioxidant vitamins appear to play a very unique role by “neutralizing” free radicals: beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.  Some enzymes that have trace minerals – selenium, copper, zinc, and manganese – act as antioxidants, too.  As scavengers, antioxidant vitamins mop up free radicals, rendering them harmless waste products which get eliminated before they do damage.  Antioxidants may even may help undo some of the damage already done to the body’s cells.

Your source of antioxidant vitamins should come from eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Eating whole grain food and nuts will also provide you with a good supply of antioxidants.  Many foods also have been fortified with antioxidants, but it is not known how well supplemental antioxidants are absorbed by the body.  Antioxidants are one of the reasons people are urged to “Eat a Rainbow” in fruits and vegetables each day.  This variety ensures that we get many antioxidants, as well as flavonoids and phytochemicals.  We should be eating between 5 and 9 servings each day.  A serving is equal to ½ cup, so shoot for at least 2 ½ cups of fruit and vegetables each day.

Include BLUE/PURPLE in your low-fat diet to help maintain:
A lower risk of some cancers 
Urinary tract health
Memory function
Healthy aging

Include GREEN in your low-fat diet to maintain:
A lower risk of some cancers
Vision health
Strong bones and teeth

Including WHITE in your low-fat diet helps maintain:
Heart health
Cholesterol levels that are already healthy
A lower risk of some cancers

Including YELLOW/ORANGE in your low-fat diet helps maintain:
A healthy heart
Vision health
A healthy immune system
A lower risk of some cancers

Include a variety of RED fruits and vegetables in your low-fat diet to help maintain:
A healthy heart
Memory function
A lower risk of some cancers
Urinary tract health

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Running on Technology: How Fitness Trackers Changed Our Physical Activity

Running on Technology: How Fitness Trackers Changed Our Physical Activity

Busting Back Pain

Our backs just like our bodies change as we grow older and often there is an increase in back pain.  There are many causes of pain and if chronic pain persists it is important to see a doctor.   Moderate exercise is important to keep pain at bay.  Here are some tips from GEHA and NIH for a Healthier Back.
For a healthier back
  • Stay active and maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Stretch before exercise or perform other strenuous physical activity. 
  • Don’t slouch when standing or sitting. 
  • Make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height for you. 
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. 
  • If you must lift something heavy, don’t bend over the item; instead, keep your back straight, bend at the knees, and lift by putting the stress on your legs and hips. 
  • Talk with a health care provider to make sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D. 
  • Don’t smoke. 

Read more at: 
 Don't Let Low Back Pain Knock You Flat

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Having Trouble Sleeping?

Top 7 after-dinner snacks to help you sleep

For a nutritious bite that helps you nod off and sleep deeply, these snacks all fit the bill. Ideally, you should eat them around 90 minutes prior to sleep to allow time for digestion. 

  • Cottage cheese and fruit 
  • A string cheese and a few whole-grain crackers. 
  • A small serving of salmon or turkey (about 2 oz.) and ½ cup of brown rice 
  • Plain yogurt with wheat bran 
  • Peanut butter on whole-grain toast 
  • A few tablespoons of hummus with whole-grain pita 
  • One egg (hardboiled, or scrambled with low-fat milk and cooking spray) and a piece of whole-grain toast
 From the Living with diabetes - Health e-Report from GEHA

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Great Foods For Your Heart

Heart Healthy Foods

When we think about nutrition and heart health, we often default to the list of foods we shouldn’t be eating which in turn provokes a feeling of deprivation. It’s hard to stick to a lifestyle goal if you constantly feel deprived. Instead, start celebrating the bounty of foods that support your heart’s health. Here are eight foods you can feel good about eating every single day.

Salmon is rich source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to support heart health and general disease prevention. Including salmon or other fatty fish like sardines and anchovies can help raised the good HDL cholesterol and lower the bad LDL cholesterol. Salmon is as simple to prepare as seasoning a filet with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and roast it at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Nuts are rich in fiber, anti-inflammatory fats, protein, and more. They contain vitamin E, which boasts a slew of health benefits like helping to lower bad cholesterol. Nuts play a role in keeping your endothelial cells healthy – the cells lining are artery walls. They are also a good source of magnesium. This aids in muscle relaxation and can be naturally calming. Add nuts to your oatmeal, put them on a salad, or enjoy them as a healthy snack.

Berries contain anthrocyanins and may help regulate blood pressure. A study of women aged 25 through 42 showed that those people who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32% lower risk of heart attack compared with those who ate less. Eating blueberries has also been linked to the raising of HDL cholesterol and a lowering of triglycerides. Blueberry intake is also associated with decreased oxidative cell damage which has been linked to healthy arteries. Add berries to smoothies, cereal, and even to savory grain dishes.

Dark Chocolate contains flavonoids. This helps with lowering blood pressure, successful blood clotting, and overall inflammation. Look for dark chocolate with at least 75% cocoa as higher percentages of cocoa is more nutrient dense and tends to be lower in sugar. The recommended intake is up to one ounce per day so enjoy dark chocolate in moderation.

Potatoes are often avoided due to dietary myths around staying away from white foods, but this nutrient dense vegetable deserves a place on your plate. Potatoes are rich in potassium which helps with blood pressure regulation. They are also high in fiber. Potatoes are an inexpensive healthy vegetable. Avoid deep fried potatoes or loading them up with cheese and instead experiment with healthier cooking methods like grilling, baking, or roasting.

Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidiant that has been shown to help with cholesterol reduction and decreasing the risk of heart attack. They are also a great source of potassium. In the winter months, choose grape of cherry tomatoes as they tend to be more flavorful than their larger counterparts. You can eat them raw or enjoy them in soups, stews, sauces, and more.

Beans are an inexpensive plant based protein. Beans and lentils are trending in 2015 for good reason! Consumption of beans and legumes are associated with a lower risk of heart disease as well as improved glycemic control. They are also a good source of folate and magnesium which helps lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Rich in fiber and protein, beans and legumes are satisfying. If you buy canned, make sure to rinse and drain them. This simple act can decrease the sodium content by over 50%.

Olive oil, a mainstay in the Mediterranean diet, has long been associated with heart health. Consuming olive oil in the place of more saturated fats can decrease your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Source: Government Employees Hospital Association Health eReport - March 2015 Health e-Report

Avoiding Mistakes With Eggs

Today I visited with some students at Mesaland's Community College enrolled in a Health class about Food Safety.  I was reminded of some food safety mistakes many families make.  Here are some tips from the Fight Bac website for keeping your family safe from food borne illnesses caused by eggs this Spring.

Eggs-tra Care for Spring Celebrations

It's spring -- the season to enjoy the great outdoors and celebrate special occasions, like Easter, Passover, and graduation! While eggs are used all year ’round, they are especially important for many spring and summertime activities.
. Like meat, poultry, seafood and produce, eggs are perishable and need to be handled properly to prevent foodborne illness. Occasionally, eggs with clean, uncracked shells can be contaminated with bacteria, specifically Salmonella Enteritidis. Here's what YOU can do to have a safe and egg-cellent spring!

Clean Up, Clean Up...
  • Clean hands are key! Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after food handling.
  • Beware of cross-contamination. Foodborne illness can occur when kitchen equipment is not thoroughly washed between uses. Always wash food contact surfaces and cooking equipment, including blenders, in hot water and soap.
Cook and Keep Cool...
  • Bacteria love to grow in moist, protein-rich foods.  Refrigeration slows bacterial growth, so it's important to refrigerate eggs and egg-containing foods. Your refrigerator should be at 40 °F or below. Use a thermometer to monitor.
  • Remember the 2-Hour Rule: Don't leave perishables out at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Whether you like your breakfast eggs scrambled or fried, always cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm.
  • Tasting is tempting, but licking a spoon or tasting raw cookie dough from a mixing bowl can be risky. Bacteria could be lurking in the raw eggs.
  • Cook cheesecakes, lasagna, baked pasta and egg dishes to an internal temperature of 160 ºF. Use a food thermometer.
  • Only use eggs that have been refrigerated, and discard eggs that are cracked.
  • Keep hard-cooked eggs chilled on a shelf inside the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door.
  • Remember that hard-boiled eggs are only safe to eat for one week after cooking.
 If you have more questions or concerns about food safety, contact:
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). TTY 1-800-256-7072.
  • The Fight BAC!® Web site at www.fightbac.org.
  • Gateway to Government Food Safety Information at www.foodsafety.gov
The Partnership for Food Safety Education is a non-profit organization and creator and steward of the Fight BAC!® consumer education program. The Partnership is dedicated to providing the public with science-based, actionable recommendations for the prevention of foodborne illness.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Do Just One Thing This Month to Prepare for an Emergency

Food : Take steps to make sure food in your refrigerator and freezer will stay safe.

During an extended power outage, temperatures in your fridge and freezer will begin to rise, even if the doors stay closed. As the temperature rises, harmful bacteria may begin to grow on your food.
If the temperature in your fridge stays above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than four hours, perishable food items (milk, lunchmeat, mayonnaise based salads, poultry items, leftovers, etc.) may be unsafe to eat.
If the temperature in your freezer stays above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than one to two days, food may be unsafe to eat. Food that still contains ice crystals should be safe. Always check the color and odor of food, particularly meat when it is thawed. If it is questionable throw it out (make sure it is discarded where animals can’t get to it).

Take steps now to make sure your perishable food remains as safe as possible:
• Install a thermometer in your fridge and freezer.
• If you anticipate a power outage, such as a winter storm, reduce the temperature of your fridge and freezer. The colder your food is the more time it takes to thaw.
• Keep containers of ice in your freezer to keep the temperature down.
When the power goes out:
• Cover the fridge or freezer in newspapers and blankets. Keep vents clear in case the freezer starts operating again.
• Avoid opening the door to the fridge or freezer.
• Use dry ice, if available. Identify a source for dry ice in advance and remember that if the power outage is widespread, there may be a lot of competition for this resource.
If you don’t know the temperature of your fridge or if the fridge was off for more than four hours, the food should be discarded. Eating perishable food that has not been kept cold can cause food poisoning, even if it is refrozen or cooked. When in doubt, throw it out!