Archive for October, 2011

Avoiding the Sugar Hangover this Halloween Season


Long gone are the days when young trick or treaters go door to door to get fruit and popcorn from their neighbors. Instead, the new norm is to give out loads of candy and other sugar-filled, unhealthy items.

Nutrition experts (and dentists) cringe every time October 31 rolls around, but this year parents can not only do their part in giving out healthier treats, but they can also be sure to monitor what their children are eating, too.

We all know that too much sugar is bad for anyone, but do we know what effects too much sugar can have on our children? Nutrition experts offer the following points:

• Children that consume too much sugar and too many carbs, can suffer from hypoglycemia causing fatigue, poor concentration, mood swings and frequent illness.

• Too many “empty calories” can mean that children aren’t getting the nutrients they need on a daily basis.

• A new diabetic is diagnosed every 8 minutes, a threefold increase in the past 5 to 6 years when a new diabetic was diagnosed every 23 minutes.

• Recent research has shown that more than 20% of school-aged children are obese and more than 50% are overweight.

• Too much sugar can cause chronically elevated blood insulin levels triggering inflammatory problems and elevated cholesterol.

Now don’t get us wrong, this Halloween doesn’t have to be all “doom and gloom” when it comes to having a few treats. Parents need to be very careful in monitoring what their child puts into their mouth and how often they are turning to sugary items.

Ration the sugary products over a longer period of time and incorporate them with a protein snack. Having a protein, especially before the sugar snack, will slow and reduce the rate and quantity of insulin secreted by the pancreas, thereby reducing many of the risks stated above.

Here’s to a Healthy and Happy Halloween!

Pumpkins: Not Just for Decorating Anymore


Every year as fall and the month of October rolls around, you will see that many homes use pumpkins to decorate their homes in anticipation of Halloween. But, pumpkins aren’t just for decorating anymore and many chefs and at-home cooks are using this fruit in many recipes.

One thing that many people do not know about pumpkins is that they are made up of 90 percent water. Despite this fact, pumpkins also contain other great nutritional aspects including potassium and vitamin A. The bright orange color of pumpkins also tells us that they are a great source of the important antioxidant, beta carotene. Research has indicated that diets rich in beta carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and protects against heart disease. It also prevents some degenerative aspects of aging.

If you plan to cook with your pumpkin and not just carve it up for the front porch, choose a “pie pumpkin” or a “sweet pumpkin.” These pumpkins are generally smaller than jack o-lantern pumpkins, their flesh is sweeter and they contain less water. Also choose pumpkins without blemishes or soft spots for the best and healthiest pumpkins.

When to Keep Your Child Home and When to Send Them to School


Now that school is back in session and children are more susceptible to colds and the flu, many parents wonder when it is safe to send their child to school and when it is not. While many schools have specific guidelines regarding children who are sick, the following points are a general rule of thumb that will help you determine whether it is safe or not for your child and others. Your child will need to stay home if:

• They have a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
• They are vomiting
• They have diarrhea
• They are in the first 24 hours of pink eye or strep throat antibiotics

Generally, experts say, that children can return to school when they have no fever, they can eat and drink normally, when they are well rested and alert enough to pay attention in class and once they have completed any doctor-recommended isolation due to pink eye or strep throat.

Prepare Yourself for Cold and Flu Season: Do’s and Don’ts


Now that the kids are back in school and the weather is starting to change, it’s time to start worrying about the cold and flu season. But this year your worrying can be less if you take the following dos and don’ts into consideration and protect your family and yourself.

Do use hand sanitizer- Carry a pocket-sized hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it generously whenever you are in public places. Germs are everywhere and on everything and by using hand sanitizer you are protecting yourself from bringing home these flu viruses.

Do wash your hands frequently-
It may seem like the simplest thing to do, but be sure that you are washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap, and for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Teachers are now telling students to sing the ABC’s or Happy Birthday to themselves while they are washing their hands to be sure you are washing for a full 15 to 20 seconds.

Do sneeze into the crook of your elbow- By sneezing into your elbow, you are avoiding transmitting flu viruses to your hands and will keep you from passing the virus to others. It may seem socially awkward at first, but soon you will see more and more people doing this when they sneeze.

Don’t shake hands- To keep from transmitting germs, avoid shaking hands with people when you greet them. Try a head nod, waving or smiling instead to greet someone. If you can’t avoid shaking someone’s hand, then be sure to use your hand sanitizer following the hand shake.

Don’t use someone else’s phone or computer mouse- Phones and computers harbor some pretty heinous germs for hours. Avoid sharing someone else’s phone or computer mouse if at all possible. If you do have to use someone else’s phone or computer wipe it down with an alcohol swab prior to using it.

Don’t change a diaper without washing your hands immediately afterwards- This should be a given at all times and not just during the flu season, but stool harbors gastrointestinal bugs that cause diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomach. It may also contain H1N1, so anyone changing a diaper needs to be sure that they are washing their hands (for 15 to 20 seconds) following the changing.