Archive for May, 2017

Fibroids and polyps: What women should know about a common health problem

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

So what is a fibroid or polyp and how do you know if you have them?

Fibroids and polyps

Fibroids and polyps are growths in a woman’s uterus that are usually benign but can be malignant in some cases. While they are mostly be benign, some of the most substantial problems they cause for women result in infertility, trouble with getting pregnant and suffering recurring miscarriages.

Polyps are small growths on the surface of the uterine wall, an overgrowth of the lining that is easy for the ob-gyn to remove. Fibroids are larger and are usually imbedded in the smooth muscle of the uterine wall.

Fibroids vary in type, size, and where they grow in the uterus. Two types of fibroids can grow inside the uterus on a stalk or outside the womb.- Others can grow just below the lining of the uterus. Some fibroids grow in the middle of the uterine wall and some develop under the outer covering of the uterus. Heredity and race can increase your risk of developing fibroids.

Uterine polyps usually occur in women in their 40s and 50s. Factors that can put you at risk for fibroids are obesity, high blood pressure and a history of cervical polyps. Endometrial polyps – or those that grow in the lining of the uterus – occur in 10 percent to 25 percent of women, and are present in 25 percent of women with abnormal uterine bleeding, or heavy periods.

What are the symptoms?

While some fibroids and polyps can go undetected based on size and where they are located, there are a number of symptoms that women should be aware of.- Many will suddenly suffer from heavier periods than usual (lasting seven days or longer), sensations of abdominal or pelvic-area bloating, belly or pelvic pain, constipation, or pain during sexual intercourse. While none of these symptoms are life-threatening, they can detract from a woman’s quality of life.

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids or polyps, you should talk with your health care provider about your treatment options.

Treatment options

There’s no single best treatment approach. For uterine fibroids and polyps, your doctor might recommend “watchful waiting,” where active treatment is unnecessary unless the fibroid or polyp changes or if you’re at risk for development of cancer.

Certain hormonal medications, including progestins, may shrink polyps and lessen symptoms. But such medications are short-term solutions at best– symptoms typically recur once you stop taking the medicine.

Fibroids usually grow slowly– or not at all– and tend to shrink after menopause when levels of reproductive hormones drop. Medications for fibroids target hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, treating symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure. They don’t eliminate fibroids, but may shrink them.

As recently as 20 years ago, hysterectomy was the standard treatment for fibroids and polyps. In addition to the complete loss of fertility that comes with a hysterectomy, patients routinely faced long, painful recuperation times – six weeks or more. New procedures for laparoscopic hysterectomies may have reduced recovery time for some women, but did nothing to prevent the loss of fertility and hormonal changes associated with a hysterectomy.

Today, alternatives exist that are less invasive and can be performed on an out-patient basis. These procedures, such as the MyoSure tissue removal system, can eliminate fibroids and uterine polyps without having to cut or remove any part of the uterus. The MyoSure System works for fibroids located within the uterus, is a short procedure which allows you to go home the same day. The procedure can help eliminate fibroids and polyps as well as the heavy periods that may be associated with them. To learn more, or to find a doctor who can perform the procedure, visit or

Three simple ideas for creating an amazing cheese platter

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Here are three unique platter ideas that are sure to impress at your next party:

1. The cheddar flight. Wine isn’t the only thing that gets better with age. Offer your guests a plate of delicious, aged cheddar cheese. Black Creek’s premium cheddar cheese is available aged nine months, two or three years and features a richly-sharp flavor. To create this platter, present the cheese on a cutting board, and allow your guests to cut their own. Adorn each variety with number-shaped birthday candles to show their ages. For example, use a “9″ for the nine-month offering. If you would like to serve your cheddar in cubes, cut the cubes in different sizes, start small at nine months and get bigger as you reach three years.

Plate pairings: Aged cheddar isn’t only a delectable treat, it is also a wonderful partner for a variety of wine and beer pairings. A full-bodied merlot will complement your cheddar cheese plate perfectly, and your guests will also enjoy pairing this cheese with a zinfandel, stout or brandy.

2. Tour of Europe. Italy is known for its many cheeses, but what about France, Denmark or Holland? You may not know much about the cheeses available from these countries and chances are your guests don’t either. Create a “Tour of Europe” platter and wow your guests with an offering that will pique their curiosity and delight their taste buds. French cheeses like brie and camembert offer a soft texture with a memorable flavor. From there take your guests to Holland and Denmark, for blue cheese, extra-aged Gouda or the salty, nutty flavor of Edam. Add flags to your cheese offerings denoting each one’s nationality. Your guests will quickly tour the continent and try them all.

Plate pairings: A tour of Europe will offer your guests many different tastes and several beverages can be paired with this plate including stouts, ports and cabernets. If you’re looking to add another country to your tour, visit for a variety of ideas.

3. Flavor within flavor. If you want to offer a cheese plate with a look and feel all its own, Great Midwest flavored jacks and cheddars are the perfect answer. Each cheese’s natural flavor is complemented with the addition of flavor infusions ranging from sweet (blueberries) to spicy (jalapeños) to savory (horseradish). Offer your guests a tray featuring fruit-filled cheeses on one side and spicy cheeses – loaded with jalapenos, habaneros or chipotle – on the other. Garnish with the fresh versions of the appropriate fruits or peppers. Your guests will love your presentation and the beautiful colors such a platter provides.

Plate pairings: A plate of flavored jacks and cheddars offers guests several different tastes and is perfectly complemented by a wide array of beers. If you plan on serving a plate featuring spicy cheeses, offer your guests a riesling or iced tea as well.

Creating that perfect cheese tray is simple once you have a theme. Let your imagination guide you and you will be rewarded with a platter that expresses your creativity and wows your guests.

Invest in family-healthy diets by growing half your plate

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Healthy eating is defined in many different ways, but the United States Department of Agriculture replaced the former Food Pyramid with MyPlate – creating an easy visual for everyone to enjoy healthy and balanced meals.

The MyPlate graphic shows a place setting. The dinner plate is divided in half. One half of the plate is composed of fruits and vegetables, and the other half grains and proteins. To see exactly how much that amounts to for each member of your family, visit  If you’re interested in changing your family’s eating habits, how can you get them to fill up half of their plates with fruits and vegetables?

This season, consider adapting your family’s eating habits to mimic the MyPlate graphic. Although most on-the-go families don’t eat that many fruits and vegetables, it’s easy to do, especially if you plant a garden and buy from local farmers markets. When you grow your own fruits and vegetables it can help save time and money, but the benefits go much deeper. Growing fresh produce is a rewarding experience that provides your family with quick and healthy alternatives to snack foods. Even a finicky child will most likely eat a carrot that they grew themselves or snack on some salsa from their very own garden.

Growing enough fruits and vegetables to fill half your family member’s plate is easier than it sounds- here are some tips to accomplish this task:

* Plan a garden. Map out a space in your backyard that will make a nice garden plot. Keep it in a sunny spot, away from trees and buildings. Consider installing a fence around the spot, especially if your backyard is frequented by bunnies or deer. If you don’t have a backyard, check out your city’s community garden plots to borrow or rent. Or consider creating a container garden on your deck, balcony or patio. It is easy to grow veggies in any space.

* Make a list. Write down the vegetables and fruits you want to grow, keeping in mind what plants thrive in your zone, as well as the spacing you have available. If you don’t have space for enough fruits and vegetables to last you the entire summer, consider participating in a co-op or making a visit to your local farmers market once a week to add in a variety of fruit and vegetable options.

* Start planting. Give your plants all the nutrients they need to grow well, so you can experience a bountiful harvest. If planting in containers, the Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix works perfectly for smaller pots or more arid environments, the Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix provides an organic potting soil option and the Miracle-Gro Expand N Gro Concentrated Potting Mix is lightweight and expands with water, making it easier to move larger containers while planting.

* Weeding, pruning and watering. Once planted, fruits and vegetables will likely need a little growing assistance in the form of pulling weeds, pruning back overgrown plants and of course, watering. For best results, water deeply each morning before the heat of the day has taken its toll. Container gardens tend to need to be watered more frequently because growing plants can quickly soak up water added to the container. With good maintenance, your plants should provide you with a large and delicious harvest.

* Serve up those fruit and veggie dishes. When you’re ready to harvest, start planning menus that will make good use of your garden’s growth. Visit to find many delicious recipes that will use different fruits and veggies from your garden.

And don’t forget about the USDA’s MyPlate proportion recommendation. When serving, try and keep half of the plate full of what you harvested out of your own backyard to maintain healthy eating habits. If you find yourself with more fresh produce than your family can eat, consider donating to a local food pantry or sharing your harvest with friends and neighbors.

Parents urged to get kids vaccinated against meningococcal disease for new school year

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

While parents may have grades and carpools on the mind, they should know that meningococcal disease is the result of a rare, but serious bacterial infection that can progress very rapidly and take the life of an otherwise healthy person in as little as one day. Symptoms that parents and their teens should watch out for could include stiff neck, fever, lethargy, sensitivity to light, irritability, headaches and vomiting.

With school in session, kids are going to bed later and waking up earlier; the resulting fatigue may raise the risk of meningococcal disease, possibly by weakening the immune system. Common activities such as sharing water bottles and utensils can also facilitate the spread of the disease. As fall sports season approaches, student athletes can be at greater risk of exposure to meningococcal disease, since cramped locker rooms and long bus trips can increase the risk of exposure to the germs.

To help raise awareness about the serious consequences of meningococcal disease and urge parents to take action and vaccinate against the disease, the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) partnered with Sanofi Pasteur to launch Get in the Game: Keeping Teens Healthy. Get in the Game is a national Campaign that is a part of the Voices of Meningitis educational program and features Olympic swimmer and mom Dara Torres along with meningococcal disease survivors.

“As a mother, I know how busy this time of the year can be, running from one sports practice to another,” says Torres. “But parents shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of vaccination for meningococcal disease. I hope that parents will feel empowered and motivated to speak with their children’s health care provider to make sure their child is up-to-date with their vaccinations.”

Adolescents and young adults can be especially vulnerable to the disease; however, many parents aren’t aware that this disease is a threat or that there are vaccinations – recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – available to help prevent this disease.

“At NASN, we want parents to know about the serious consequences of meningococcal disease and the importance of vaccination,” says NASN’s President Elect, Beth Mattey, MSN, RN, NCSN. “In addition, as a school nurse, I want parents to know that teens who have already been vaccinated for meningococcal disease may now need a booster to help protect them during the years when they are at greater risk of infection. The new school year is an excellent time to have that conversation with your health care provider.”

Visit to learn more about meningococcal disease and the Get in the Game Campaign.

Alzheimer’s caregivers: Tips to take care of yourself, too

Friday, May 5th, 2017

“It’s important for caregivers to take care of themselves as well, and to help those they care for find treatment options that can make it easier for both patient and caretaker to better manage Alzheimer’s symptoms,” says Dr. Richard S. Isaacson*, associate professor of neurology and director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Program at Weill Cornell Medical College and a respected AD researcher who has several family members with the disease. “Just as there is no one solution for managing Alzheimer’s symptoms, caregivers need to employ a suite of tactics in coping with their responsibilities – from stress-relieving habits and regular medical care for themselves, as well education about nutritional therapy and medication for patients.”

Caregivers should keep in mind that helping themselves stay well is also helping the people for whom they’re caring. If you’re taking care of a loved one with AD, here are some ways you can help both yourself and the person in your care:

* Therapy to mitigate AD symptoms – Coping with common symptoms of AD such as disorientation, forgetfulness and emotional imbalances are among the most stressful aspects of caregiving. Helping patients mitigate those symptoms can improve the quality of life for both the patient and caregiver. Some medications show promise in helping reduce symptoms, and a new medical food, Axona(R) by Accera, Inc. can further help some mild to moderate patients mitigate symptoms, especially when used in tandem with drug therapies.

Axona helps by providing the brain of mild to moderate AD patients with an alternative to glucose – the “food” which fuels brain function. A brain affected by AD doesn’t process glucose into energy as efficiently as a healthy brain, creating a condition known as diminished cerebral glucose metabolism (DCGM)) which most often occurs in the areas of the brain involved in memory and thoughts. The easy-to-mix, once-daily prescription medical food Axona helps provide brain cells with an alternative energy source, which may help ease the effects of DCGM and enhance memory and cognitive function in AD patients. Doctors and caregivers of AD patients who use Axona report patients appear more alert and engaged in daily activities and interactions with others.

* Seek support – Caregivers provide a tremendous amount of support for both patients and those who love them, but they can use support too. If you are a caregiver, join a support group where you can connect with people whose experiences and emotions parallel your own. You can find a support group through the Alzheimer Association’s website, Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends, too. Something as simple as picking up laundry or groceries, or sitting with a patient for an hour while you run errands doesn’t take much time away from someone else’s schedule, but it could give you a much-needed break.

* Keep an organized schedule – Routine can be very comforting for AD patients, and a schedule can help caregivers stay on track and feel less stressed by day-to-day demands. Online calendars or apps for your mobile device can help you keep a schedule and stay organized. Be sure to schedule in some time to give yourself a break, along with doctor’s appointments and medication timings.

* Avoid isolation – Withdrawal from society is common among dementia patients and can take a toll on those caring for them. Caregivers can feel isolated, too. It’s important to connect with others. Seek social interaction that will benefit you and your loved one with AD, whether it’s attending a weekly prayer meeting or a regularly scheduled dinner with family members.

* Keep things in perspective – The Alzheimer’s Association outlines five key things to remember: Don’t take behaviors personally; stay calm and patient; realize pain can be a trigger for behavior; don’t argue; and accept upsetting behaviors as part of the disease. Remember, your loved one can’t control his or her disease, but you can control your reaction to disease-related behaviors.

To learn more about Axona, visit For more information on AD, including tips for caregivers, visit

*Dr. Richard Isaacson is a paid scientific advisor/consultant for Accera, Inc.

How to blast through your weight loss plateau

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

If it seems like you work out regularly only to continue to struggle losing weight, you’re not alone. But losing weight in order to improve health may be the wrong approach. First you need to fix what’s holding you back on the inside, so you can see the transformation you want on the outside.

Cliff Edberg cringes every time he hears someone say: I want to lose weight to get healthy. In my opinion that phrase is backward, says Edberg, a registered dietician, personal trainer, and certified weight loss coach at Life Time Fitness, The Healthy Way of Life Company. People need to get healthy first in order to lose weight. Weight gain or being unhealthy isn’t directly caused by a lack of exercise, it’s a side effect of metabolic dysfunction.

Generally people refer to having good metabolism (someone who burns calories quickly) or bad metabolism (a slow caloric burn with leftovers stored in body fat). But metabolism is much more than the rate at which calories are burned. Metabolism is the process of breaking down food into smaller molecules for various uses in the body. Certain foods or ingredients might interfere with a person’s metabolism, as can a lack of nutrients, high blood sugar or an overabundance of stress hormones. This metabolic disruption is often behind a person’s inability to lose weight, even when they are taking steps to eat right and exercise.

Michelle Stork, 43, from Chanhassen, Minn., had resigned herself to creeping weight gain, despite diligently working out for years. As time went on it was easier to gain than lose weight, she recalls. Exercise alone wasn’t taking it off.

She accepted the weight gain as a normal part of getting older, but Edberg, her personal trainer, didn’t. He encouraged her to take a simple blood test to check for underlying metabolic issues. I could see on paper what the problems were and it motivated me to try what my trainer suggested, Stork says. She slowly added recommended supplements, including vitamin D, probiotics and fish oil, which increased her energy, but didn’t affect her weight. The next step was to change her diet.

We discovered a high likelihood that she was sensitive to gluten and dairy, Edberg says. Unlike an allergy, a sensitivity means the hormones derived from the metabolic process of such foods send confusing messages to the brain, which can cause various symptoms, including weight gain. Within a month of eliminating gluten and dairy from her diet Stork lost more than 10 percent body fat and dropped 12 pounds and two sizes.

If someone has a thyroid issue, nutrient deficiency, sex hormone imbalance, etc., they will gain weight Edberg explains. As a certified weight loss coach, he knows that unless the true underlying metabolic issue is addresseda person will not sustainably lose weight. All the exercise in the world will not fix a thyroid issue or nutrient deficiency. In some cases it might make the underlying problem worse.

This inside out approach to personal training is the standard at Life Time Fitness. New members take a comprehensive assessment, called myHealthScore, to measure six metabolic markers – cholesterol ratio, triglycerides, blood pressure, body fat ratio, glucose levels and nicotine use – in order to first set goals based on their internal health.

With information from myHealthScore Edberg says he can make precise exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and supplementation recommendations to support each client’s individual metabolism needs.

Stork is impressed with her results, but the implications go beyond a smaller waist line. Her father suffers from Parkinson’s disease, which looms large in her mind. The steps she is taking now she hopes will prevent a dependence on medication later. I know what may be ahead of me as I get older, and I know I need to start doing things to improve my overall health and fitness to help counter any disease I may develop later in life.