Strategies for a Healthier Year
You can make 2017 a healthier year for you and your family by following some simple guidelines, and getting your flu shot.
- Get your rest: If you are tired all the time, you have a greater chance of getting sick. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise: People who exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day five days per week catch fewer colds. Exercise boosts your body’s overall health thanks to improved heart and lung function, and researchers now say it may actually raise the number of immune cells in the body.
- Leave Your Nose Alone! Cold and flu germs enter the body through your nose, mouth and eyes, so don’t touch these areas without washing your hands first. And, if you get sick, avoid touching these areas while you are ill, as you can reinfect yourself.
- Eat healthy: Getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk and healthy proteins helps give your body the tools it needs to stay strong.
- Stay hydrated. When you are dehydrated, your body is more vulnerable to illness.
- Wash your hands: This is the single most important step you can take to avoid colds and flu. Use plenty of soap and lukewarm water, and lather and rinse several times. Avoid water that is too hot as it can crack and dry your hands, leaving you open to infection.
- Get Your Flu Shot. The flu shot is the best way to prevent getting the flu. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine. If you do get sick around the time of getting the shot, it is either from another virus that causes similar symptoms, or you had already been exposed to the flu before you got your shot. While the very young, elderly, and those with weakened immune systems or existing lung issues are most at risk for suffering more severe cases of the flu, ANYONE who comes into contact with other people is at risk for getting the disease, and should therefore get the shot. Getting the shot protects you and also keeps you from bringing the illness home to your family.
- January is not too late to get your shot–the flu season extends into March.
A Few Things to Ease Your Mind Regarding Breast Cancer
Researchers know the main risk factors for breast cancer (see Healthy Tips for September / October 2016), and the good news is they have also identified some things that do NOT cause breast cancer.
Antiperspirants: At one time, there was concern that the aluminum found in many antiperspirants could cause toxins to concentrate in the breasts. However, research has proven this to be false, according to the American Society of Breast Surgeons.
Underwire bras: While not exactly known for comfort, underwire bras have not been found to interfere with circulation around the breasts or in the buildup of toxins. If you feel you need the added support of an underwire bra, it is safe to wear one.
Caffeine: Coffee cravers can put their minds at ease–daily java is no longer considered a cancer risk. However, drinking a lot of coffee can make you more prone to the development of benign cysts, but there is no good evidence that caffeine is a cancer-causing agent.
Breast implants: Whether implants are silicone or saline, a recent 10-year study has found no increase in breast cancer risk among women with implants. The problem with implants is that they can make it hard for radiologists to clearly see all of the breast during mammograms.
What You Should Know About Zika
Zika is a virus that is spread by mosquito bites. It causes fever, rash, joint aches and conjunctivitis or “red eye.” It is currently occurring in Central America, northern South America (especially in Brazil), and in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In most people, Zika is not of great concern, with symptoms usually abating in a few days to a week. However, in pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant, Zika is a more serious issue.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that Zika is transmitted from the mother to the unborn child and can cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly, and termination of pregnancy. For this reason, pregnant women in any trimester are advised NOT to travel to any regions where Zika is being reported. The CDC also cautions that women trying to become pregnant, and their partners, should also avoid areas where Zika is present as the virus is believed to also be transferred during sexual intercourse.
If travel to regions where Zika is present is unavoidable, the CDC urges women to first consult with their healthcare provider before making the trip, and to then take the strictest precautions for avoiding mosquito bites.
If you are pregnant and have recently been to a region where a Zika outbreak has occurred or is now occurring, see your doctor even if you do not have symptoms. Your provider will then determine whether you or your unborn baby should undergo certain tests.
If you believe you had Zika at some point, but are now well, you should also see your doctor right away.
The CDC also emphasizes that Zika is spreading, so the areas where it may be found will be constantly changing. If you are pregnant and planning to travel (or are trying to become pregnant), visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/zika first to see if Zika has been detected in the areas you are planning to visit.
The Dangers of Marijuana During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
With the recent legalization of medical marijuana in a number of states, there has been the incorrect assumption that marijuana must be safe to smoke during pregnancy. However, this is not the case. Marijuana is still a drug, and a drug with known harmful side effects to developing babies.
Medical research has shown that the chemicals in marijuana influence brain maturation.
Babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies respond differently to visual stimuli, tremble more, and have a high-pitched cry, which may indicate problems with neurological development. As marijuana-exposed children reach school age, they tend to have difficulty with problem-solving skills, memory and the ability to remain attentive.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, breast-feeding mothers should also be leery of using marijuana as research suggests that THC is secreted into breast milk in moderate amounts. These amounts could also be harmful to a baby’s developing brain.
While marijuana may have positive uses in aiding certain medical conditions, it is still a drug that can put your baby’s healthy development at risk.
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