Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Scoop on Sun

Roughly 20 percent of all Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Having blistering sunburns as a child can double one’s risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.  To protect your skin from UV rays and lower your risk of skin cancer, avoid spending time outside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when UV rays are at their strongest. A good rule of thumb: If your shadow is shorter than you are, you should seek shade. Big floppy hats can protect children and adults alike!  Remember sunglasses because UV rays are also bad for your eyes.  Consider sun-protective clothing, especially for infants and young children. Another option: Use a wash-in treatment that ups regular clothing's sun-protection ability.  And, of course, slather on sunscreen.  If only this were was easy as it sounds! 

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Sunscreen:
What SPF should my child be using?
At least 30 and if your child is fair and burns easily, use an SPF of 50.  SPF (which stands for sun protection factor) measures how many times a product increases your skin's natural sun barrier. So if you burn in ten minutes, an SPF of 15 should give you 150 minutes without turning red. There's probably no need to go any higher than 50. In fact, the FDA has proposed a rule that would prohibit manufacturers from claiming anything above "50+," because there's not enough evidence to prove that higher numbers would offer greater protection. You also need to look for "broad spectrum" on the label. That means that the product not only guards against burning UVB rays, but also UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin and cause skin cancer as well as wrinkling and premature aging.

Is it safe to use sunscreen on my infant?
It is, though doctors suggest that infants younger than 6 months get no sun at all. If you're outside with your baby, seek shade as much as possible, dress your child in a hat and UV- protective clothing, and use sunscreen on any exposed body parts. Babies have less melanin in their skin than older children and adults -- plus their skin is thinner, making them more apt to burn.

Do sprays work as well as lotions do?
Yes, if you use them properly. But most people tend to put on far too little spray sunscreen, especially on windy days when it tends to blow away. Apply liberally and rub well so that the droplets disperse and cover the skin.

Do I need to use sunscreen if my child tans easily?
Yes.  A tan is a sign that the skin is being damaged by UV light.  Even though we tend to think that a tan makes you look healthy, there's nothing healthy about it. People who have a dark complexion are less likely to get skin cancer than those with fair skin, but they're still susceptible to sun damage like wrinkles, so they need sunscreen anyway.

Does my child need to swear sunscreen during a long car ride?
Yes. UVA is a long wavelength of light, which means it's able to pass through car windows.

Is it okay if I use my unfinished bottle from last summer?
As long as it has not expired, it should be okay to use it. But if you left your sunscreen in direct heat for a couple of days -- for example, in a hot car or on a sunny windowsill -- it may have lost some of its efficacy. In that case, especially if there is no expiration date listed on the container, it might be best to play it safe and just start fresh with a new bottle.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Patient Safety Awareness Week

The care and safety of patients at the Community Health Center of Branch County (CHC) is and always has been our top priority. Here are some ways we ensure our patients remain safe and receive excellent patient care:

  •  CHC put into place a communication system to identify fall risk patients. After patients are accessed they are each assigned special colored socks. Green socks indicate that a patient is very low fall risk, yellow sock are a moderate fall risk, and red socks are a fall risk concern and need additional assistance when moving.
  • Communication boards were implemented in every room.  These boards tell patients who their care team is, what they can expect today, who will be contacted with status updates, and an anticipated discharge date. 
  • CHC encourages patients to be their own advocate and welcomes family members to advocate on behalf of their loved ones.  Speak up if you are confused about a procedure, medication, or would like something explained further. No question is ridiculous, and you can bet that your doctor has heard most questions before.
  • CHC staff can help you manager your medications.  It is encouraged that patients keep a running list of what medications they take on a daily/weekly basis. Share that list with your physician and remember to include how much of each medication you take including the units of measurement. The CHC Patient Portal can also help!  Access your record to see what medications you were discharged with and what the plan is for follow up.  When all else fails, never feel badly calling the hospital or your physician to get clarification.  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Image result for winter walking
Don’t let winter make your movement freeze!  Do the temperatures and snow keep you inside?  Are you afraid of slipping on the ice? After all, who wants to walk through the cold, snow and ice when bundled up like a mummy and end up on their backside from slipping on the ice?  Here are some tips to stay active and safe during the winter months.  Attitude is everything when it comes to movement. 

1.      Set a goal:  Start with setting a smart goal. Focus on what you enjoy about your fitness and health routines. Then make a goal about what you want to improve.  Choose exercises that are appropriate for your abilities and those that you enjoy. Break your goals down into categories. One may be for movement or function while another may be focused on nutrition or weight loss. A weight loss goal of 2 to 4 pounds a month will amount to 24 to 48 pounds a year.

2.      Get creative at home:  Home is where your health starts. The weather isn’t a factor when you work out at home. You can purchase a workout video, exercise equipment, or learn body weight workouts.  Exercising at home is convenient and helps to stay on track. You don’t have to worry about sharing equipment or germs with other individuals. 

3.      Try to choose activities that are appropriate for your abilities, and those you truly enjoy,”Try to choose activities that are appropriate for your abilities, and those you truly enjoy,”Try to choose activities that are appropriate for your abilities, and those you truly enjoy,”Try something new:  Take advantage of local classes or activities.  This may be a winter sport or a league. It will keep you moving, whether it is joining a class, gym, or volleyball league. Paying for an activity can keep you participating in it regularly. Making new friends and learning a new skill is an extra bonus.

4.      Meal Plan: Meal planning in the winter is very important. Decreased sunlight in the winter can trigger cravings for comfort foods. Our serotonin levels are decreased which causes the brain to tell us to eat carbohydrates, or mood lifting sweets to raise the serotonin level.  Meal planning will be essential to prevent this.  If you have a plan for a high protein breakfast and lunch, you will be less likely to indulge later in the day. 

5.      Get Excited: Focus on what you love about winter.  Write down your top 5 enjoyable things about winter.  Maybe it is that you have more time to meal plan and prepare a healthy meal.  Maybe it is that you enjoy a winter activity like skiing or sledding and enjoying a warm cup of tea or cocoa when finished.  Use the activities that you love to keep you moving. 

6.      Stay Safe and Dress Appropriately:  Be sure to layer your clothing when exercising outdoors.  This includes a thin layer to wick moisture away from the body.  Add a middle layer for warmth and an external layer to protect against the wind and moisture. Purchase a hat, gloves, or even a ski mask to cover your face in subzero temperatures.  Select proper footwear. Be sure to waterproof your shoes/boots if you are winter walking or running. If you are shoveling or skiing, select boots that keep your feet warm and dry.  Keep in mind, “it is not bad weather, it is poor selection of clothing if you get cold”. 

Bridget Barle, PT
Community Health Center of Branch County
Department of Physical Therapy
Branch Intermediate School District

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Image result for diabetes
There is no magic cure for diabetes despite all the progress that science has made. Diabetes is progressive, silent disease which can be affected by the choices you make throughout the day. Healthy food choices optimize glucose control for healthier outcomes. Here are some ideas to help prevent diabetes and make living with diabetes more manageable:

Follow a low carb diet:  Include healthy carbohydrates, and reduce or avoid sweets and refined grains. Choose whole grains for at least 3 servings daily. Strive for five servings of fruits and vegetables, including some raw and others cooked. Include protein with each meal and snack. Beware of fad diets encouraging excessive intake of meats and fats which could lead to heart and kidney problems. Be sure to include carbohydrate counting in your meal plan.

Artificial sweeteners:  Even foods billed as sugar-free may affect your blood sugar as they may contain artificial sweeteners, or even fruit juices along with other carbohydrate containing ingredients. There continues to be disagreement regarding the use of sweeteners. Some studies indicate sweeteners, when used in moderation, are safe. Other studies show that your body reacts to artificial sweeteners in the same way as real sugar. However, without real sugar present, it can really confuse your body.  Either way, the best advice is to limit your intake of artificial sweeteners.

Processed foods:  Foods are processed to make them safe, preserve them, or make them more convenient.  Roasting meat or breading and deep frying can be considered processing. Without meal planning, you may end up eating more processed foods than you realize. While some processed foods are healthy; consuming others regularly may increase your intake of added salt, sugar, and fat. Choose to prepare foods from scratch or select minimally processed foods more often.

Use of supplements: Supplements to help control blood sugar levels are frequently in the news.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have quick and easy treatments for the things that ail us? Supplements, used in moderation, may have no ill effects, but studies showing improved blood sugar level are inconclusive. If you have diabetes, follow meal planning advice from a dietitian, and medication recommendations from a primary care provider.

Exercise:  Exercising burns energy and can help to burn extra glucose in your bloodstream.  If you blood sugar is high, try taking a walk or hiking up a flight of stairs.  Regular exercise can help moderate blood sugar and improve A1C results. 

Healthy lifestyle habits can improve your blood glucose levels, perhaps preventing the onset of diabetes, and leading to better diabetes control.  If you are diagnosed with diabetes, keep your appointments with your doctor, take medicines as prescribed, and ask for a referral to a dietitian for help in creating your diabetic meal plan. You make multiple choices every day, commit to improving one habit at a time, and start today!  

The CHC Diabetes Support Group meets Monday, November 14, 2016 in conference rooms 1 & 2 from 6 – 7 p.m. If you would like more information about the Diabetes Support Group call 517-279-5346.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Avoid Hidden Calories

You may have gained weight slowly or hit a plateau in your efforts to lose weight. Do not be discouraged; continue with healthy lifestyle habits you have adopted! 

Eating fewer calories in a day can lead to weight loss over the course of a year. Adding an exercise to burn another 100 calories can boost that weight.   No more excuses, time to get started!   

Be honest about portion sizes. A 3-oz. serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards.

Carefully read serving sizes and number of servings on snack foods. One serving of potato chips may be only 11 chips.  Limit intake by purchasing single serving bags, and eat only one!

Count liquid calories such as juice, milk, regular sodas, alcoholic beverages, and any sugar, milk, or flavorings you add to coffee or tea. 

Avoid nibbling while cooking or clearing off the table.  Beware of small treats throughout the day, such as food left in sight whether on your kitchen counter or at work in the break room.  Remember “out of sight, out of mind”. 

Don’t underestimate the calories used in food preparation and cooking, extra calories may be hidden in these sources: oil in the pan, oil sprayed onto your pan longer than 1/3 of a second (when using aerosol cans), seasoned vegetables, mayonnaise and other spreads or sauces on sandwiches, and dressings on salad.  

Practice moderation everyday- Calories consumed on weekends and holidays may set you back in accomplishing your goals.  Plan in advance the strategies you will use to make wise food choices and practice portion control.  You do not need to avoid favorite foods, rather control your appetite, discipline is a reward in itself. 

Eat mindfully- Savor each bite, chew completely and occasionally set down eating utensils between bites.  Make mealtime special by setting a lovely table, listening to relaxing music, and using serving dishes. Spend quality time with others with whom you are eating, limit distractions such as the TV and/or cell phone usage to increase your awareness of the amount of food consumed. 

Write down everything you eat. This will help you be accountable to yourself and you will remember between-meal snacks.  Most successful dieters write down everything they eat. 

Fit in daily exercise- Get approval from your physician before starting any exercise.
Wake up 15-20 minutes earlier to allow time to take a brisk walk. The average adult can burn 100 calories walking just one mile. Challenge yourself to go faster for 30 seconds every 3 minutes during your walk to improve your time, then increase the distance several days per week. 

Weight lifting- Using soup cans or small hand weights and lifting while you talk on the phone, or while you are sedentary may increase your metabolism if done regularly.  Get expert advice from an exercise specialist at your local gym for correct forms to avoid injuries.
Margaret Weigle, RDN

Friday, May 6, 2016

6 fitness pick-me-ups

Trying to make it through a workout, only to find your energy level isn’t where it needs to be? Here are ideas to give you a boost: 

• Adopt a personal mantra. Find a positive phrase that you repeat when you are less-than-motivated to keep going through an activity. Maybe something like: “Try one more, just one more” — whether it’s repetitions, minutes, laps, miles, whatever. 

• Make a competitive game out of your activity. If you see other walkers, runners, swimmers, or cyclists ahead of you try to catch them and then pass them. If you’re on a walk with your dog, try to keep in step with your four-legged friend. 

• Pay attention to your breathing. Try this next time you are just getting started or in the middle of your activity: Breathe in deeply through your nose only, and exhale hard out of your mouth.

• Dink more water.  Drinking enough water impacts everything from the amount of energy you have on a daily basis, how much hunger you feel through the day, your ability to concentrate, and how quickly you recover from your workout sessions. 

Find a training partner or begin your quest for a heather lifestyle with a personal trainer.  It is much easier to keep each other accountable and/or motivated with a workout buddy or someone who can get set up a workout routine that matches your goals.  

Listen to music. Put your ears buds on and listen to your favorite tunes preferably something with a faster beat. Many web-sites including amazon, apple, Spotify etc. have readymade playlists for your workouts. 

Try new activities. Doing the exact same routine day after day will limit your progress and you will limit the risk of boredom. You should try at least one new activity per month and/or at least mix up the activities that you do, Go a little faster, do a couple extra sets, little heavier, try free weight instead of machines. Mixing it up will help you reach your goals faster and it might keep you on your path for a healthier you. 

            Hans Jonsson
Physical Therapist, Certified CrossFit Coach


Monday, January 18, 2016

New Year's Resolutions for Eating Healthy

Half of those who have a New Year's resolution to get fit and eat healthy give up six weeks or less into the new year. Many are faced with busy day to day lives and cannot find time to go to a gym when juggling work, children, sporting events, and homework. 

Dietary director Margaret Weigle at the Community Health Center of Branch County has some quick tips to follow to keep your New Year's resolution for eating healthy. 


If you have a medical condition requiring a change in your eating pattern, it is recommended to see your physician to obtain a referral to a Registered Dietitian for Medical Nutrition Therapy. 

Drink more water 
Plain, unflavored water quenches your thirst and is one of the six nutrients required by your body. 

The average adult needs about eight 8 ounce servings of water every day. Try drinking water as soon as you wake up, include with and between meals and before bedtime. It may require effort to learn to like plain water, persevere! Your body will thank you for it. 

Eat more fiber filled foods 
Most American eat 10-14 grams of fiber a day. The daily recommended intake of fiber is 21 to 38 grams. 
The healthiest way to reach this goal is to include high fiber whole grains and to eat adequate amounts of both fruits and vegetables. 

Including adequate fiber (and fluid from water) will help with regularity and help prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. 

Include fruit and/or vegetables at each meal 
Include at least two servings of fruit and/or vegetables at each meal. Whether you purchase fresh, frozen or canned packed in its own juice fruit is loaded with nutrients and has fiber. Try to limit juice to 4 oz per day, it has nutrients but no fiber. If you have limited time purchase frozen or low sodium canned vegetables that can be steamed and served. 

Limit sugar, salt, fat and alcohol intake 
Practicing moderation can help establish healthy eating habits without depriving yourself. 

Have you noticed eating sugar, salt and deep fried foods regularly may increase your craving to have them again and again? On the flip side avoiding treats completely can trigger some people to over indulge when they include treats in their diet. 

Sugar is not a nutrient, but small amounts may be included in a healthy diet without causing weight gain. Excessive intake of sugar may deprive your body of other needed nutrients and may lead to dental caries and other health related disorders including obesity. 

Salt is a nutrient needed by the body. Most foods naturally have sodium and eating some processed foods can increase your intake of sodium without using the salt shaker. Most Americans meet their sodium needs without using a salt shaker. To limit sodium, use less processed meats, vegetables, snack and junk foods; limit consumption of premade gravies, sauces and soups. Limit foods that provide >300mg sodium per serving. 

Limit your intake of fats, especially saturated fats and try to avoid trans fats. High fat foods include pastries, many baked goods, fatty meat, including visible fat on meat, high fat dairy products, oil, butter, margarine, and oils. 

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so responsibly and with your physician's approval. Moderation for women, one drink per day, men may include two alcoholic beverages per day (12 oz beer or 3 to 4 oz wine or 1 oz liquor).  

Plan meals and snacks, eat at least three times daily. Avoid overeating, train yourself to be satisfied with normal portions. 

Eating within two hours of waking up (rather than saving all meals for evening 5-10:00PM) will help your metabolism function more effectively.  

Moderation does not encourage saving treats to over indulge on the weekend or a special night out; you are not a bank! 

If your goal is weight maintenance following these healthy recommendations can help you to reach your goal. 

Margaret Weigle, RDN