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Nurse Bridgid

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Update: A heathy diet is a healthy you!

I was so obsessed with talking about the healthy diet, that I forgot to mention a few things earlier:
Vitamins and minerals are best absorbed through food sources. The amount of vitamins/minerals listed on the back of your vitamin bottle is not what your body takes in,they are synthetic, so taking your multi vitamin then eating candy all day, does not ensure that you are getting 100% of the good stuff that your body needs!

Also, you need to be careful with taking a lot of supplements for a few reasons: 1. some vitamins are fat soluble, which means that they are absorbed in your body's fat, ad not easily flushed out of your system (examples Vitamin A,D,E,K) so be careful if you do have any medical issues and the amounts of extra vitamins you take on top of our normal super healthy diet :) Also, some vitamins can reduced the absorption of certain medications- check with your pharmacist or the insert label that comes with your meds to be sure. 2. Many supplements that are not multivitamins are not FDA approved, and some studies of various supplements found that the supplements were mainly fillers of non foodstuffs that had no nutritional value. So, just ensure that what you are taking is necessary and FDA regulated, if not, find the supplement in a food source and eat it!!

And finally, being health rubs off on people....Moms eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle, then their kids do to, eating a healthy lunch at work may rub off on co workers, etc. It is easier to be healthy when the people around you are too!

Yours in good health

A healthy diet is a healthy you!

I am frequently asked about what vitamins to take, which supplements are important, what can be skipped, etc. I suggest to people to take a simple multivitamin and usually a fish oil supplement (Omega 3-6-9). My true feelings (which is also the mantra that my brother lives by, who happens to be in amazing shape) is that you shouldn't need to take vitamins in pill form because you should be getting all of that good stuff through your diet!! I know, people always say that they don't have time, or how is it possible to get all of your fruits and veggies in one day? It's actually pretty simple, you just need to plan ahead. For example, if you wake up 10 minutes earlier in the morning, you can make your own smoothie that is completely fresh and a well balanced meal that will keep your body happy, healthy, and satisfied until your next meal. All you need is a blender, oatmeal, flax seed (ground or whole)(I use raw) milk, either fresh OJ or an orange/tangerine/etc, and whichever fruits suit your fancy. I buy flash frozen organic fruit during the winter and during warmer times I go to farmers markets buy local fruit, spend some time cutting it up and then I put it in the freezer so that it stays fresh and I can just throw it into the blender in the morning and be done with it! I feel totally satiated with a yummy healthy start to the day, and it is light but keeps me full until my next meal. That gets in all of my fruit for the day right there (and fiber and Omegas from oatmeal and flax and some protein from the milk)!!

For the rest of the day, I try to pair my proteins with Veggies. For example, I am a big lover of sandwiches (gotta have my sammie) and I know that they aren't the "healthiest" choice (mostly because I love mayonnaise), so I use whole grain bread (actually flax bread- I am a little flax obsessed) and I have turkey and pack it full of veggies: baby spinach, sprouts, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and celery. I like to eat snacks that consist of veggies with protein, like baby carrots/celery and organic peanut butter, or just grab a handful of sugar snap peas. With dinner, I make a protein and have two side veggies....unless it is a night where all I want is pizza or a bowl of cereal (I'm not going lie, those nights happen to everyone)!! Just mix up your veggies, get green leafy veg whenever you can (spinach, Kale, brussel sprouts) and make your plate as colorful as possible (with veg!)

I'm not telling you guys to mimic what I eat (I clearly am not someone that is preaching to do what I do because as I am saying this my brain is thinking that all I want for lunch is licorice!) but I am just trying to show that you can work full time, have outside interests from work, and still eat a healthy diet. PeaPod is my friend, any grocery food delivery place will work, but plan your weekday dinners ahead of time, not only do you make healthier meals (you don't grab crap to munch on whilst looking through the fridge and pantry looking what to make) but it also saves you money. I tend to make things that I can have leftovers. In the warmer weather, walkable farmers markets are where my pooches and I shop, so that we can buy organic and local AND get some exercise and fresh air all at the same time.

I know I'm not telling you anything new, or that you don't already know, but I think it makes an impact when you think about either taking a daily pill, then eating not so good stuff because you think it legitimizes eating a muffin for breakfast (which, PS is just cake for breakfast) versus actually eating really good stuff for your body, ditching the pill, and your body will feel so much better! It feels good to make healthy choices, and it is hard during the winter when we are covered under sweaters and it is cold and all we want to do is cuddle under blankets, keep warm, and eat comfort foods, but with spring here, and (hopefully) warm weather around the corner, I think that we should all try to make those take out food nights less frequent and our healthy days as the norm!

Don't do this because you want to lose weight, that isn't my goal here; just be healthier because you want to and because it will have such long lasting impacts on your body and your health. No one thinks about the impact our lifestyles have on our bodies, and what effects will occur in the next ten years, but as someone who sees it daily...I want you all to not regret the healthy, or lack thereof, choices you have made.

So, join me in eating healthier, cutting down on cheat days, and feeling better about our food choices!

Yours in good health!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fevers, coughs, and colds...OH MY!!

My sister sent me a text last night about a conversation that she overheard, which got me thinking about a common misconception about illness: when to treat. Most of us will get a cough, runny nose, sore throat, etc at some point and it may even be accompanied by a fever....fevers are NOT bad things! A fever is your bodies way of responding to any pathogen (virus, bacteria, etc) that invades your system. A lot of people reach for Tylenol (Acetaminophen)/Advil (Ibuprofen) the moment that they feel 'feverish' and that precludes your body from fighting off the pathogen optimally. Now, if you have a temperature of 101.5 are beet read and can barely move, am I telling you to sit there and 'sweat it out'? Absolutely not! But, if the fever and its side effects are tolerable (i.e. you are able to sleep, rest, walk to get fluids/use the restroom) then try to work with it, and let your body do its thing to kill off that pathogen. If your fever is higher than 101.0 for a few hours and you are feeling horrible, please call your doctor and treat yourself with your antipyretic of choice, please! Common sense does play a role here, but the human body has an amazing immune response and it is actually very efficient, just most of us don't let it work as it should because we are very quick to treat the issue so that we can get back to work, do errands, take care of kids, etc, instead of doing what we should; rest up, take some 'me' time, and drink lots of fluids (water/gatorade/vitamin water/anything other than soda please!). It is not always easy, actually it is near impossible to rest and take the time that your body needs to heal and fight infection, but it is crucial to healing, and to having a healthy lifestyle in general- we all need to make more times for ourselves just to relax, even when we are feeling well!!

Now the other thing that I want to clear up is the issue surrounding viral infections. Viral infections, are viruses (which may sound really stupid), but viruses do not respond to antibiotics, only bacteria do! For example, most of the time your head cold that turns into a bronchitis is the result of the virus moving through your system, so going to your HCP (Healthcare Practitioner) looking for antibiotics because you have had a cold for a few days and now it has moved to your chest, isn't usually helpful to you. Most viruses last in the system for 7-14 days (usually by 10 days they are gone but you can have a residual cough, etc), so by the time you go to your HCP, its been, let's say 7 days, you start your z-pack that they gave you (which is a poor choice on their behalf...they should know better!!), which will start to work in 3 days,'s a miracle: you're better!! You are better because the virus has ran its course, not because of the z-pack, or whatever the broadband antibiotic of choice was that day. Now, I am not saying that it is NEVER a bacterial infection but around 90% of all bronchitis infections are viral (American Lung Association), so the best way to feel better is use a humidifier while you sleep to help break up the mucous in your lungs and allow you to cough it up ("better out than in" is my motto!), DON'T SMOKE (bascially...EVER and especially if you are sick), limit second hand smoke (again, general rule to live by, in my book), rest, fluids, good old fashioned Vicks vaporub (a personal favorite), and stay away from dust/fumes/vapors. You can even try an OTC (over the counter) cough and cold remedy to clear up day/nighttime symptoms (just a tip: the 'nighttime' versions just have Benadryl added, so if you don't need the other stuff, take a Benadryl and it will help to dry up secretions and help you sleep!) If you are wheezing, call your HCP and they may order you for an inhaler to open up the old bronchioles and help you breathe better, or put you on steroids to help decrease the inflammation in the bronchioles (which causes all the nastiness that you feel). If you are having difficulty breathing, please seek immediate help!

One other point on this topic regarding antibiotic overuse: you increase your risk of antibiotic sensitivity (i.e. allergy) and the risk of antibiotic resistance. You do not want either want of these issues, trust me! It becomes very difficult to treat patients when they are acutely ill and they are allergic to basically every antibiotic because they have been treated with every antibiotic known in the primary care field, and they come in with a life threatening infection that is resistant! So please, question your HCP if they throw a z-pack at you when you aren't feeling well with a cold....I know that you feel like crap and the z-pack looks like the oasis that you have been looking for, but think about your long term health and the effects that it can have on you. And keep in mind that everything we put into our bodies that isn't organic food is a poison, including medications that keep some of us alive, so try to limit the amount of poisons that you expose your body to, and (I cannot urge enough) get some rest, drink lots of water, and use common sense; your body is your top priority!!

Yours in Good Health!!

I know this is a stretch....but

Ok. So, I know that this isn't totally about health and wellness, but in a strange way, it totally is health related, my mental health, that is....bear with me because I worked the overnight shift last night, and I am a bit punch drunk!

I saw a flyer today that was asking people to sleep outside in the middle of the town green so that we can support homelessness and understand the discomfort of living on the streets., I beg of anyone to argue that living on the streets is amazing, comfortable, safe, healthy, and has all of the creature comforts that we all know and love. I thought that was absolutely ludicrous. Do I need to sleep outside in the middle of this Noah's Arc requiring flood and cold weather to 'understand' that homelessness isn't cool? No, I personally don't. I take care of quite a few homeless patients that have met the wrath of the winter cold, or a not so friendly 'neighbor', so I get it, not completely, but I get that it is a tough life, an not altogether fun. Wouldn't a better way to "support homelessness" (which seems like an odd statement in general...don't we want to fight it? prevent it? Not, support it) be to volunteer at soup kitchens, donate money, have a free health clinic? I also wonder who will get that flyer and think, 'yes, I want to sleep outside in the wet mud this Saturday night; I didn't have plans, and this is a perfect way to spend my weekend'? I can't help but think of my mother being asked to do this, her response would not only be priceless, but I think that whomever asked would never ask anyone else again!

Thank you, to whomever thought of that amazing idea, thank you for your supporting homelessness, and wasting thousands of dollars having glossy, expensive flyers created and placed in all of the buildings in the wealthier areas. I thank you not only on behalf of homeless people everywhere for wasting all that money that could be used for food/clothes/shelter/support services, but for proving, yet again, that people really do have distorted views of what is helpful to others.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Importance of Eating Calcium

So this is something I feel really strongly about and I actually got into a heated ‘discussion’ with a trainer at my gym regarding this topic... One of the trainers was lecturing everyone on the fact that dairy is the “devils food”. I completely disagree. Yes, milk products have fat in them, yes, fat can cause heart disease related to the cholesterols. BUT, specifically for women, ladies, we only have until the age of around 29-33 to build up and adhere calcium to our bones. After that, the calcium wears off and if we don’t get enough, it can lead to osteoporosis! Yes, calcium supplements can be helpful for those of us who are lactose intolerant, but I am a big believer in getting appropriate vitamins from your diet, making supplements unnecessary. I understand that it is hard with the stress that we are all under and the ridiculous hours that we all work to make healthy choices for food all the time, but the area of calcium is one of the most important minerals to ensure is in your diet. And, lactose intolerant friends, yogurt is lactose free!! So, get your Chobani (my FAVORITE yogurt of all time) fix on and start making some bone history!! Yogurt can give you 20% of your daily calcium, and there are plenty of non-dairy calcium sources which i have listed below:

Food, Standard Amount Calcium (mg) Calories

Fortified ready-to-eat cereals (various), 1 oz 236-1043 88-106

Soy beverage, calcium fortified, 1 cup 368 98

Sardines, Atlantic, in oil, drained, 3 oz 325 177

Tofu, firm, prepared with nigarib , ½ cup 253 88

Pink salmon, canned, with bone, 3 oz 181 118

Collards, cooked from frozen, ½ cup 178 31

Molasses, blackstrap, 1 Tbsp 172 47

Spinach, cooked from frozen, ½ cup 146 30

Soybeans, green, cooked, ½ cup 130 127

Turnip greens, cooked from frozen, ½ cup 124 24

Ocean perch, Atlantic, cooked, 3 oz 116 103

Oatmeal, plain and flavored, instant, fortified,

1 packet prepared 99-110 97-157

Cowpeas, cooked, ½ cup 106 80

White beans, canned, ½ cup 96 153

Kale, cooked from frozen, ½ cup 90 20

Okra, cooked from frozen, ½ cup 88 26

Soybeans, mature, cooked, ½ cup 88 149

Blue crab, canned, 3 oz 86 84

Beet greens, cooked from fresh, ½ cup 82 19

Pak-choi, Chinese cabbage, cooked from fresh, ½ cup 79 10

Clams, canned, 3 oz 78 126

Dandelion greens, cooked from fresh, ½ cup 74 17

Rainbow trout, farmed, cooked, 3 oz 73 144

*Borrowed from

(FYI Daily calcium needs are- by age: 9 to 18 years: 1300 mg, 19 to 50 years: 1000 mg, 50+ years: 1200 mg)

And, for the brave people out there, my favorite source of Dairy calcium is Raw Milk and Raw Cheeses. Clean raw milk from grass-fed cows, is a balanced food in and of itself, some people solely live off of it. It was also used as a medicine to “cure” chronic and acute diseases in the early part of the last century. I switched to it on a suggestion by a co-worker, and it has totally changed my life! I cannot drink store bought pasteurized milk, it doesn’t taste as fresh, and I know that the animals are being mistreated in order to obtain that milk (that makes me sad- not sad enough to be vegetarian, but sad). Check out interesting info at

Now, I don’t suggest this for people with lowered immune systems due to cancer, transplants, etc or babies and the elderly. There are risks with drinking/eating raw milk products such as Listeria monocytogenes, that can cause severe illness and death BUT raw milk has lactococcus lactis which is a bacteria that can kill off all listeria monocytogenes. Nonetheless, the risk is still there and you need to be aware of it.

If you are willing to try, go to a local dairy farm or co-op and grab a pint to really is life changing!!

I think I have been pro-calcium enough! Plan your meals around ensuring that you have calcium in your diets, especially you ladies, when you have unbroken hips at the age of 80, you’ll thank me!!!

Good Health!!