Many families rely on Medicaid to ensure that their children are receiving the health care services they need.
For Cynthia Charleston’s 14-year-old son, Lafayette, who is autistic, having Medicaid coverage has enabled him to have access to therapy services where a worker visits his West Philadelphia-based home as well as one-to-one wraparound services at his school. After filing her son’s renewal paperwork online during the summer, Charleston thought his coverage would be renewed. She didn’t realize the paperwork hadn’t been processed until she received a letter in October informing her that his coverage was slated to end.
She visited the Department of Public Welfare county assistance office a few days before his Medicaid coverage was scheduled for termination on Nov. 2. Charleston was told that the office was focused on collecting FEMA applications due to Hurricane Irene and would not be processing Medicaid paperwork. Charleston was asked to submit a new application, which ended up being placed in a box. She’s still waiting to learn whether Lafayette’s benefits will be reinstated.
“Their process is ridiculous. They throw it in a box, and they’ll get to it when they get to it, but you don’t have any idea when,” she said.
“It’s just hard. You really have to fight as a parent and go through all kinds of channels to get services,” Charleston added.
Charleston turned to the Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) for assistance. The agency has received more than 200 calls from parents whose families have been similarly impacted.
Charleston’s is one of thousands of Philadelphia-based families whose children have lost their Medicaid benefits.
According to PCCY, more than 6,000 kids were dropped from the Medicaid rolls in Philadelphia during the period from August to October. Statewide, almost 18,000 children lost their Medicaid benefits.
“Most of these people would probably continue to be eligible. There are people for whom insurance is an absolutely critical lifesaving element — kids who are really sick, kids who are in the middle of acute episodes, and kids who need services to continue in school. The ripple effect is enormous,” said Deborah Zubow, who operates PCCY’s insurance helpline.
“There are a lot of providers at this point who are continuing to provide services to very ill kids and they’re doing it on faith.”
Zubow noted that area DPW county assistance offices have a heavy caseload, which can lead to delays in paperwork being processed.
“Things have been becoming more and more difficult for the county assistance offices to keep up with the work that’s required of them,” she Zubow.
Due to the sagging economy, Zubow says the offices are being impacted by increased demand for services at a time when there are fewer administrative workers.
DPW spokesperson Carey Miller says there is an appeal process for families who lost their Medicaid benefits.
“Anyone who feels that they should not have been kicked off of Medicaid can appeal. They have 30 days to appeal. They just need to bring their proper paperwork back in to their caseworker and work out whatever they need to get back on the rolls if they feel they have been taken off improperly,” she said.
Does drinking water help increase your energy production during a workout?
Mark C., Glassboro, N.J.
Water is the most abundant nutrient in the body. We lose about 3 quarts daily through normal activity and more during a workout. Drinking water during your workout helps increase your blood volume, which will increase cardiac output. Cardiac output is the amount of blood being pumped during each heartbeat. The more blood your heart pumps with each beat the more nutrients and oxygen are transported throughout the body. Oxygen and nutrients in the blood provide energy for work. Many people run out of steam during an exercise session because they don’t replace water lost through exercise. Studies show that drinking water before, during and after a workout will increase energy production. This is true during hot and cold weather.
Sweating after workouts
Why do I sweat more after I finish my workout than I do when I’m working out?
Tina B., Tampa, Fla.
Tina, the body has a certain amount of blood to send to various systems. Exercising causes blood to be shunted from the skin to the working muscle, which causes a build up of heat. Exercises such as running walking or biking will allow sweat to evaporate during your workout. When you stop exercising the body sends more blood to the skin causing you to sweat and release excess heat. Cessation of sweating after a workout is a good way to gage whether you have spent enough time cooling down.
Deodorants that control wetness
Are deodorants that control wetness safe?
Deodorant companies are always telling us we shouldn’t sweat. But you should never stop your body from sweating. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself. If you stop this process, you could do a lot of harm to your body. As your body’s temperature rises, small blood vessels in your skin expand and draw heated blood to the surface. You also begin to sweat from the pores in your skin. As the sweat evaporates it draws heat from the skin and blood vessels. The cooler blood then recirculates throughout your body. If you stop your body from sweating, you could overheat your system. You can also aggravate the skin if you have a problem with blemishes and you don’t allow your body to sweat naturally. The difference between regular deodorants and antiperspirants is that deodorants will allow your body to sweat. Use a deodorant or finely ground baking soda instead of antiperspirants. Before applying, make sure your underarm area is completely dry.
Are starchy foods like corn bad for you if you’re losing weight? I like corn.
Starchy foods are important for balanced nutrition. They supply you with needed fiber, minerals and vitamins. Starchy foods are also low in fat. The fat content increases when you add butter or other high-calorie sauces that contain saturated fat.
Corn is a starchy vegetable, but don’t stop eating corn it’s an excellent source of vitamin A and C. It’s also low in sodium and fat. Sweet corn can be either yellow or white. Ears should be full with firm, bright, milky kernels, but give a little when pressed. Look for fresh green husks. The husk should be dry and the silk yellow.
There are several ways to cook corn. When boiling, use enough water to cover the corn. You should cover the pot and cook rapidly for 7 to 10 minutes. You can season your corn by adding oregano, parsley and Italian seasoning to the water.
You can also add cooked corn kernels to your pancakes, waffles and muffins. Corn will digest best with other vegetables.
Diet and metabolism
What is the difference between losing weight by dieting alone and losing weight by exercising?
Dieting alone to lose weight will lead to a muscle mass loss of around 50 percent and a fat and water loss of around 50 percent. Weight lost through proper diet and exercise will result in a fat loss of around 98 percent and lean muscle mass may increase. The loss of lean muscle will weaken the muscles and organs and slow down metabolism. The rate at which the body burns calories is directly related to lean body weight. In other words, muscle helps burn calories. When you lose weight by dieting alone your metabolism burns calories at a slower rate. When you quit dieting your body continues to burn calories slowly. Consequently, you gain the weight you lost and sometimes more. Each time you diet this way, your metabolism is strained, as well as heart function, kidney function, and bone and muscle production.
Instead of cutting calories, workout for 30–60 minutes 3–5 times a week. Walking is great for the beginner and jogging can become addictive. You’ll also want to do toning exercises for each part of the body, such as weight training or calisthenics. Experiment with different workouts and find something you enjoy. Make sure you consume between 12 to 15 calories per pound of body weight daily.
Family high blood pressure
During a family reunion I found out that a number of my family members have high blood pressure. I don’t have high blood pressure now, and I don’t want to develop the condition. What can I do to avoid developing high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can be controlled with medication along with a change in diet, weight control, exercise, cessation of smoking and relaxation.
Limiting sodium intake is important because your blood pressure increases with the use of sodium. Your diet should be high in fiber, which includes foods such as fresh or frozen green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grain breads and cereals. These foods should make up about 70 percent of your diet. Proteins such as milk, egg whites, beans, fish, chicken and an occasional slice of very lean beef should make up about 20 percent of your diet. Mono- or polyunsaturated fats should make up 10 to 15 percent. You should also drink 6–8 glasses of water daily. Sometimes a change in diet and exercise can make you feel better and lower your resting blood pressure, however, no one should discontinue taking prescribed medication unless your doctor tells you to stop.
Exercise can be beneficial to a person who has hypertension, but precautions should be taken. Before you get involved in an exercise program you need to have an exercise stress test administered by a professional. Initially, you may have to be supervised at a facility, which specializes in cardiac care or therapy. Sometimes people are tempted to quit taking medication thinking that exercise will lower resting pressure. Your blood pressure is more likely to lower because of a combination of proper diet, exercise, and medication. If your blood pressure is high, you should avoid exercises that include sprint training, and stop-and-go sports such as karate, racquetball, heavy weight training and power lifting. Instead, lift moderate weights for 10–15 repetitions for toning. Because a sudden increase in blood pressure can be induced by exercise, it’s important to warm up slowly and increase the amount of time you exercise gradually. Walking, jogging, cycling and swimming should be done at low intensity. Breathe normally while exercising and cool down slowly at the end of your exercise routine. It is important to follow these tips to keep blood vessels from dilating and constricting rapidly causing drastic changes in your blood pressure.
Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.
Thanks for joining me, Sobriety Through Outpatient, ProAct and the Recovery Community to help put a new face on recovery, addiction and mental health. For more information to get help with recovery and mental health issues call ProAct at (215) 345-6644 or go to www.proact.org.
For help with drug, alcohol and mental health problems call Sobriety Through Outpatient drug, alcohol and mental health treatment center, (215) 227-7867. Watch or listen to our recovery media station every day at www.stop-recoveryradio.com.
Listen to “Tips to be Fit” with Vince daily at www.stop-recoveryradio.com.
What’s better, honey, brown sugar or white sugar?
Honey is a sugar. It affects the body much the same way sugar does. Honey is a combination of two sugars, glucose and fructose. Its makeup is determined by where the bee gathers the nectar. It’s said that honey is better than sugar but in most cases, all the beneficial nutrients, such as the B vitamins, are cooked out of it because the temperature used is higher than 150o. Honey also acts on the body like sugar. So, don’t use more honey thinking it’s better for you.
The quality of the honey can also be affected by the way the beekeepers remove the bees from the hive. Some large beekeepers use a toxic chemical to remove the bees. This chemical, carbolic acid, can stay in the honey.
Sugar is sugar. Sugar is extracted from a plant. All sugar is processed into a concentrated form. The only natural sugar is found in fruit and vegetables that haven’t been extracted or concentrated. Once you’ve taken the sugar from the plant, it’s been processed.
Raw brown sugar is an intermediate stage of completely refining sugar. After the juice is squeezed from sugar cane, it’s boiled, filtered and dried until it’s crystallized. The sugar has a brown appearance because the molasses has not been removed. Brown sugar in the United States is sometimes more refined than white sugar. Because of the value of the molasses, the sugar is heated until all the molasses is removed. The sugar is colored by charcoal, which eventually changes its color to light brown.
An addiction is a strong or irresistible dependence on the use of a particular substance. Those who are addicted need to increase the dose progressively to achieve the original effect produced by smaller amounts. The sudden deprivation of that substance produces withdrawal symptoms. Sugar fits this description. The brain produces a substance called EOP, which makes us feel pleasure when we eat. Sugar, fat and salt trigger EOP. In some people, this can cause a craving for fat, salt and sugar. How do we break this habit before it affects our health? Gradually wean yourself from the bad foods. First, find out how much sugar you really eat by keeping a food diary. Next, cut back a little each week. A lot of your craving is psychological and you’ll need strong will power to go along with your gradual cutting back of sugar.
So, use both honey and sugar in moderation.
Walking the stairs
My coworkers and I walk down 22 flights of stairs twice daily. Can the concrete steps cause injury problems?”
Gayle, It’s great to hear that so many of your co-workers want get in shape together. But there are potential problems with your program. Walking down the fire escape can cause joint problems with the knees, hips, ankles and back. There’s also the danger of someone tripping or falling. You didn’t say how long it takes you to walk down the steps, but we’ll guess around 10 minutes. Granted, walking down the steps rather than catching the elevator will help you burn calories; walking up steps works the thighs, buttocks and burns more calories.
To effectively burn fat, you need to walk briskly for at least 20 minutes non-stop. Thirty to 45 minutes is ideal. Try walking around the neighborhood for your workout instead of using the fire escape. Climbing steps is not a bad idea for aerobic fitness, but concrete steps can be dangerous and cause repetitive stress injuries.
I know that exercise can improve your body, your health and your self-esteem. Does that mean recovering drug-dependent people can benefit from exercise? Drugs destroyed my once pleasant personality. I can use a change in my personality.
A person who is rebellious, emotionally unstable, uptight and aggressive can change personality through a regular fitness program. A good program will make you feel better, help to deal with stress; you’ll have more confidence and feel relaxed. How does this happen? When we exercise, our bodies produce pleasure hormones that have a calming effect on us. We also produce adrenaline, which helps in producing a feeling of confidence. Before starting your program, get a checkup. Start your program by doing 15 minutes of calisthenics. Try to do two to three exercises for each body part. The next day, do 15 minutes of walking. Make sure you wear the right shoes and dress for the weather. Try to workout at least 3 to 4 times a week for the best results.
Exercise can be a positive spark in your life and brighten up the worst personality.
Traveling and exercise
We do a lot of traveling and we still want to stay in shape. What can we do so we won’t get out of shape while we’re away?
Sandy & Jim,
If you’re going to be traveling and you still want to get your workout in, call ahead to see if your hotel has a fitness center on the premises. Some hotels may have an agreement with a local gym. So, find out what’s available.
Your road workout should include toning exercises, aerobics and stretching. For toning, you can do calisthenics. Pick an exercise for each body part. Push-ups for the chest, back and shoulders, wall sitting for legs, toe raises for calves and sit-ups for your abdominals. Do three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps. Use good form and concentrate on each rep.
Do your same aerobic workout or substitute walking. Be prepared for the weather. Try to get a good idea of the type of weather you’ll have to deal with during your trip. For aerobics, walk, jog, skip rope or do your regular aerobic workout.
Don’t use traveling as an excuse not to workout. Do a little planning.
Traveling and eating
How can I eat the right things when I’m on the road?
Having a job that keeps you on the road for several days at a time has the potential to ruin good eating habits. You can still eat right with a little planning. It’s a good idea to pack a portable blender and a thermos. You can pick up fruits and juices at most convenience stores or the nearest supermarket. The fruits will keep for several days. You can add fruits to your juice in a portable blender or eat them raw. Carry some fruits with you for a morning snack. Carry your thermos so you can drink plenty of bottled water throughout the day.
Lunch can be a large salad with the dressing on the side and baked or broiled fish, chicken or turkey. Tell the waiter to hold the butter or heavy sauces. Stop by your local health food store and pick up herb popcorn, whole-wheat cookies, unsalted tortilla chips, herb tea and whole grain rolls to take on your trip. Avoid fast-food restaurants, bakeries and convenience stores for between-meal snacks.
Dinner should be just as healthy. Dinner should be a low-fat protein like fish, chicken or turkey. On the side, have steamed broccoli and a salad. Go easy on the dressing. Don’t choose a meat protein entree with a starchy carbohydrate like pasta or linguine. Protein doesn’t digest well with starchy foods. If you do have a starchy food, skip the protein. If you don’t have a protein during a meal, have unsalted sunflower seeds or almonds later. After-dinner snacks can include a modest helping of whole-grain cookies, herb popcorn, herb tea or whole grain rolls.
Though you don’t have the convenience of your own kitchen, you can still eat healthy by planning.
Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.
For help with drug, alcohol and mental health problems call Sobriety Through Outpatient drug, alcohol and mental health treatment center at (215)227-7867. Watch or listen to our recovery media stations every day at www.stop-recoveryradio.com.
If you’ve missed an article of “Tips to be Fit,” go to www.phillytrib.com and search “Tips to be Fit.” Listen to “Tips to be Fit” with Vince daily at www.stop-recoveryradio.com.
A visit to the barbershop can evolve into a moment that changes health outcomes.
Men across the country are receiving health screenings in tandem with their haircuts through the Black Barbershop Health Outreach program.
Founded in 2007 by Dr. Bill J. Releford, a Los Angeles-based podiatric surgeon, the initiative seeks to reduce health care disparities among African-American men through screening and education particularly around the areas of diabetes, high blood pressure and prostate cancer.
After encountering many Black men who needed to have limbs amputated due to uncontrolled diabetes, Releford was spurred to take action by launching the BBHOP.
The program has visited more than 20 cities including Philadelphia, enabling about 50,000 men to receive health screenings in about 750 barbershops. By arming men with pertinent health information, the hope is that they follow up with a medical provider. Program organizers have set a goal of reaching 500,000 men by 2014.
The initiative started off by screening men for high blood pressure and diabetes at participating barbershops. Educating men about prostate cancer has been added to the mix.
“The addition of prostate cancer came not just from my interest, but because Black men in the barbershop often raised a question about it,” says Dr. Stanley K. Frencher, a Los Angeles-based urologist who teamed up with the BBHOP.
Frencher notes that Black men are diagnosed with prostate cancer at 1.6 times the rate more than any other ethnic group, and they die disproportionately at two times the rate of other groups from the disease.
When men visit barbershops participating in outreach efforts, they are shown a culturally appropriate educational video about prostate cancer.
“If you look at the American Cancer Society guidelines and look at what the American Urological Association says about prostate cancer screenings — none of those organizations endorse screening per se, but what they do endorse is informing men of their choices,” Frencher noted.
“What we do is we ensure that Black men can have information that they can understand and digest, in a place that they trust,” he says.
“We inform them about the fact that prostate cancer screening is not foolproof but that they should have a discussion with their physician about their choices.”
During prostate cancer screenings, men undergo a baseline PSA (prostate specific-antigen) test, which measures proteins in the blood and a rectal exam.
The American Cancer Society noted that research has not yet proven that the benefits of testing outweigh the harms of testing and treatment. The ACS recommends that starting at age 50, men should talk to their doctors about the pros and cons of testing. For African-American men who have a father or a brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, these discussions should start at age 45.
The BBHOP is analyzing the impact of its prostate cancer outreach on men’s decisions to be screened for the disease.
“Some of our preliminary results show that men who didn’t understand the disease at all, now understand prostate cancer very well and changed their mind in terms of whether or not they wanted screening tests as a result of being educated about the disease,” Frencher pointed out.
Frencher recently partnered with Janssen Biotech, Inc., to raise awareness of the resources available for advanced prostate cancer patients on the website www.MyProstateCancerRoadmap.com
The BBHOP is also participating in a National Institutes of Health funded two-year project that measures the impact of the initiative on men’s health, particularly around the areas of diabetes and high blood pressure.
The initiative partners with local medical schools, civic and fraternal organizations administer the screenings and dissimilate health information at participating barbershops.
“We really believe that the way health care is going to be delivered is it’s not going to be in hospitals and clinics in the future, but rather by reaching out to people in the community where they are and getting them to embrace their health,” Frencher added.
How can I stop smoking and not gain weight?
Sandy, Tampa, Fla.
Sandy, you don’t have to gain weight if you stop smoking. Here are some tips from the American Heart Association that could help you stop smoking and not gain weight:
1. Substitute low-calorie foods for smoking.
2. Plan your snacks so you don’t get strong urges to eat.
3. Control your environment. Remove food from your home’s living areas so it won’t be readily available.
4. Move your dinner to a later time so you won’t be tempted to snack at night.
5. Try breaking the link between food and smoking. Don’t use food to replace cigarettes.
6. Don’t put yourself into situations that may tempt you to smoke.
The liver is the largest gland of the body.
In some countries, the liver is deemed so important to health that instead of a groom promising his heart in case of unfortunate circumstances, he promises his liver! It could just about be called your fountain of youth or your lifeline. You will look as old or as young as your liver is clean.
The liver can do 500 functions. It performs these unique and important metabolic tasks as it processes carbohydrates, proteins, fats and minerals to be used in maintaining normal body functions. Some important functions of the liver are:
The liver is the major fat-burning organ in the body and regulates fat metabolism by a complicated set of biochemical pathways. The liver can also pump excessive fat out of the body through the bile into the small intestines. If the diet is high in fiber this unwanted fat will be carried out of the body via the bowel actions. Thus the liver is a remarkable machine for keeping weight under control, being both a fat-burning organ and a fat-pumping organ. If the diet is low in fiber, some of the fats (especially cholesterol) and toxins that have been pumped by the liver into the gut through the bile will recirculate back to the liver. The liver recirculates these bile acids back into the small intestines and the entire bile pool recycles six to eight times a day. If this recirculated fluid is high in fat and/or toxins, this will contribute to excessive weight. A high -fiber diet will reduce the recirculation of fat and toxins from the gut back to the liver. This is vitally important for those with excessive weight, toxicity problems and high cholesterol.
The inclusion of plenty of raw fruits and vegetables as well as ground-up raw seeds will increase both soluble and insoluble fiber in the gut, and reduce recirculation of unwanted fat and toxins.
If the liver filter is damaged by toxins or clogged up (blocked) with excessive waste material it will be less able to remove small fat globules circulating in the blood stream. This will cause excessive fat to build up in the blood vessel walls. This fat may then gradually build up in many other parts of the body, including other organs, and in fatty deposits under the skin. Thus you may develop cellulite in the buttocks, thighs, arms and abdomen.
Carbohydrates, or sugars, are stored in the liver and are released as energy. In this way, the liver helps to regulate the blood sugar level, and to prevent low blood sugar. Without this balance, we would need to eat constantly to keep up our energy.
Proteins reach the liver in their simpler form called amino acids. Once in the liver, they are either released to the muscles as energy, stored for later use, or converted to urea for excretion in the urine. Certain proteins are converted into ammonia, a toxic metabolic product, by bacteria in the intestine or during the breakdown of body protein. The ammonia must be broken down by the liver and made into urea, which is then excreted by the kidneys. The liver also has the unique ability to convert certain amino acids into sugar for quick energy.
Fats cannot be digested without bile, which is made in the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and released as needed into the small intestine. Bile acts somewhat like a detergent, breaking apart the fat into tiny droplets so it can be acted upon by intestinal enzymes and absorbed. Bile is also essential for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K, the fat- soluble vitamins.
A healthy liver filter is essential to properly regulate blood cholesterol levels. Poor liver function may increase your chances of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
If the liver does not regulate fat metabolism efficiently, weight gain tends to occur around the abdominal area and a “potbelly” will develop. This is not good for the waistline! It can be almost impossible to lose this abdominal fat until the liver function is improved. Once this is done the liver will start burning fat efficiently again and the weight comes off gradually and without too much effort from you. Many middle-aged people with excess fat in the abdominal area have a "fatty liver." In this condition the liver has stopped burning fat and has turned into a fat-storing organ. It becomes enlarged and swollen with greasy deposits of fatty tissue. Those with a fatty liver will not be able to lose weight unless they first improve liver function, with a liver cleansing diet and a good liver tonic.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find a fatty liver in adolescents who consume a diet high in processed and fast foods.
Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one. Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
Glenn Ellis, author of “Which Doctor?” is a health columnist and radio commentator who lectures, and is an active media contributor nationally and internationally on health-related topics. His second book, “Information is the Best Medicine,” was released in January.
For more good health information, visit: www.glennellis.com.
So many things can go wrong with children and pregnancy, sometimes it scares me. But I also know that pregnancy and birth have been taking place for thousands of years. And we have tons of great new information I read about every day. Early Friday Oct. 14, my first granddaughter was born. I wanted to give my daughter, Ahashta, all of the information about pregnancy and babies I learned as she and her three siblings, Vashti, Ronale and Kermit, grew up. Even though she is now a doctor, I hope Ahashta and my son-in-law, Daniel, took note from their last child. I had some good teachers along the way. First, my life with the four children, Pennsylvania State University Extension Service, the March of Dimes, and a host of other good agencies that help me learn about having healthy babies.
One of the first tips I gave out was information about folic acid. Folic acid is a naturally occurring B vitamin that helps a baby’s neural tube, which is the part of a developing baby that becomes the brain and spinal cord, to develop properly. It must be taken before and during early pregnancy when the neural tube is developing. If you can have a baby and you are sexually active you should be taking in at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
One of the best ways to get enough folic acid is to take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid. You should check the label to be sure of the amount of folic acid it contains. You also can get folic acid in your diet.
• Fortified breakfast cereals such as Total and Product 19
• Black beans
• Peanuts (only if you do not have a peanut allergy)
• Orange juice (fresh or from concentrate is best)
• Enriched breads and pasta
• Romaine lettuce
According to the March of Dimes, “If all women took adequate folic acid before conception and during pregnancy, the number of babies born with a neural tube defect could drop by as much as 70 percent.” Some studies also suggest that folic acid can protect women and men from heart disease, cervical and colon cancer and possibly breast cancer.
Can birth defects be prevented? The causes of most of them are not known, but there are a few things a family can take to reduce the risk of having a baby with birth defects. Big on the list is a pre-pregnancy visit with your family doctor. You should have a checkup once a year anyway. During your visit, your doctor can obtain valuable information about you and your family history. This can help identify risk factors for birth defects or inherited genetic conditions. Your doctor can then do the appropriate testing and screening prior to or during pregnancy. During a pre-pregnancy visit or yearly health exam, your doctor can take a good look at not only your health and lifestyle, but your family’s also. This will guide you in any changes that could improve your chances of having a healthy baby and a healthy family.
During your first visit, your doctor will check your blood and urine for conditions that could harm you and your baby. These can include hepatitis B, syphilis and possibly other sexually transmitted infections. You can also be tested for the HIV virus that causes AIDS. This visit should also determine if you have any antibodies, which will show whether or not you are immune to rubella (German measles) and chicken pox, both of which can cause birth defects if the mother is infected for the first time during pregnancy.
Your blood is checked for low red blood cell count, a condition called anemia, which could cause you to feel especially tired and possibly increase your risk of preterm delivery. Next your blood type is checked. This test also determines whether you carry a protein called the Rh factor on your red blood cells. If you lack the Rh factor, you are Rh negative and usually need treatment to protect your baby from any potentially dangerous blood problem. As many as 10 percent of pregnant women have bacteria in their urine which may indicate a urinary tract infection. Most women have no symptoms of such an infection. This infection can spread to the kidneys, where it can pose a big risk to you and your baby. These infections can be treated with antibiotics that are safe for you and your baby. Sugar and protein in your urine can be signs of serious problems. Sugar in your urine can indicate diabetes. Protein in your urine can indicate high blood pressure.
These tests may be called routine, but they play an important role in protecting your health and the health of your baby. Your doctor should repeat the urine test at each prenatal visit and your blood test for anemia at least once more during your pregnancy.
A few other factors that a woman who are pregnant or planning pregnancy should consider are to avoid alcohol, stop smoking and avoid people who smoke and use street drugs. All of these factors can cause birth defects and other pregnancy complications. You should also not take any prescription medications, over-the-counter medications or any herbals without first checking with your doctor.
Today marks the official opening of the Jon Paul Hammond Public Computer Center at Prevention Point offices.
Philadelphia FIGHT, an AIDS service organization, will host a ribbon cutting ceremony today at 11 a.m. at Prevention Point, located at 166 West Lehigh Avenue.
Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez and members of the AIDS service community are expected to join in the celebration.
Philadelphia FIGHT is one of thirteen local agencies and educational institutions participating in the program led by the city of Philadelphia’s Division of Technology and the Urban Affairs Coalition.
The computer centers were made possible through $18.2 million in grant funding from the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (B-TOP).
The program is designed to provide broadband Internet access, computers and training to the most economically and socially vulnerable areas of the city. In total, 77 public computer centers will be created and 15,000 individuals will be trained in how to use computers thanks to the citywide initiative.
“This partnership will help more residents develop valuable digital literacy and workforce skills so they can remain competitive in today's 21st Century economy,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.
“We thank Philadelphia FIGHT for partnering with the city to make valuable resources and services available to residents directly in the heart of communities across Philadelphia. Through this initiative, residents, particularly those in less advantaged neighborhoods, will have an opportunity to enhance their ability to work toward a better quality of life.”
Philadelphia FIGHT’s Critical Path Project has over 15 years of experience addressing the digital divide and serving citizens who do not have the resources in their own homes to access the Internet. For its part, FIGHT will expand the computer lab and staffing in its AIDS Library, Institute for Community Justice, and Youth Health Empowerment Project. FIGHT will also assist in creating or enhancing computer centers at 27 of the 77 locations, including shelters and drug recovery houses where FIGHT currently makes HIV counseling and testing available.
The new site contains five computers and is open to the public Monday through Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. Classes take place at various times and include lessons in basic computing skills, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, digital storytelling, and blogging as well as FIGHT’s signature workshops “Finding Health Information Online” and “Finding HIV/AIDS Information Online.”
For information about computer classes, call (215) 634-5272.
I’ve heard a lot of bad things about animal protein, such as beef, chicken and turkey. Can I eat these meats safely or am I doomed to just eating vegetables and fruits?
Jo Ann, Philadelphia
Three ounces of cooked lean meat contain one-quarter of your daily requirements for iron and are a good source for zinc and B vitamins. Those same three ounces contain 24 grams of protein, which is half the daily protein requirement for most people.
When cooking any type of meat you should take some precautions. Washing meat will not remove enough bacteria to make a difference. Only cooking will kill the bacteria. After you wash your meat, make sure you clean up the counter space and all the cooking utensils thoroughly with soap and warm water. If you don’t, the bacteria can spread to your hands, sink and nearby surfaces. When cooking meat, you shouldn’t use the same utensils to handle cooked and raw meats. All meats should be cooked thoroughly or until an internal temperature of the meat is 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The oven temperature should be at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit to thoroughly cook meat. Don’t place raw meats near cooked meats. To store meat before cooking, you should remove it from the store wrapping. Clean it and remove as much of the excess fat as you can. Removing the skin will reduce the fat content. If you’re planning to cook your meat within the next 48 hours, you can store it in the refrigerator. If you plan to keep it longer than that, you should freeze it. To freeze your meat you need to seal it in an airtight heavy freezer bag. Frozen meat will last for about three months if stored properly. Cooked meats should be stored within two hours after cooking.
Eat meat alone or with a salad. You should skip the potatoes, bread and pasta, because these foods will slow down the digestion of meat. You can eat starchy foods later with a non-protein meal.
If you follow these few tips, you can enjoy any meat without fear. So, don’t give up lean meats, they are a good source of protein, the only source of B12 and the best source of usable iron.
Are fried vegetables just as bad as other fried foods? I have fried eggplant a lot.
James, Cherry Hill, N.J.
All fried foods if eaten in excess can affect your cholesterol, body fat level, increase your risk of heart disease and cancer.
A study done in Australia found that vegetables absorb more fats when fried than fried meats. The amount of fat absorption depends on the type of vegetable and the length of time it is cooked. For example, eggplant is the worst offender, with a single serving absorbing 83 grams of fat in 70 seconds. That’s a lot of fat.
If you must fry in fats, try stir-frying in canola oil or olive oil until they’re tender. Shorter cooking time means less fat absorbed in the food.
My doctor said my cholesterol was high. What do I need to know about cholesterol?
William, Salem, Mass.
Everyone has heard of cholesterol — but did you know that a high cholesterol level is one of the main factors contributing to heart attacks, strokes and other circulation problems. Cholesterol is a yellowish, waxy material. It’s found in every cell in our body and it’s essential for our cells to function properly. Your body produces all the cholesterol it needs. When you consume too much saturated fat, your cholesterol level increases. Excess cholesterol in your diet is eventually deposited in the inner walls of your arteries. As you get older, scar tissue and other materials build up over the cholesterol causing the arteries to narrow. This is called atherosclerosis. When the arteries leading to the heart narrow, blood flow becomes restricted which can lead to a heart attack. When the arteries leading to the brain narrow you can have a stroke. More than 40 million Americans have high levels of cholesterol.
To lower your cholesterol level you should find out your cholesterol numbers. If it's high, you need to follow these tips. Diet is the single most important factor. Cholesterol is found in meats, dairy products and some vegetable oils high in saturated fat. Foods labeled "no Cholesterol" aren't necessarily healthy, and may still be loaded with saturated fat. Read labels and limit your saturated fat intake to 14 grams daily. Other ways to lower your cholesterol include not smoking, losing excess weight and getting involved in a regular exercise program. If you lower your cholesterol level 2 percent, you lower your risk of a heart attack by 30 percent.
If you want the recipe for the black bean soup just write us.
I’m worried about my caffeine intake.
Ozzie, Tampa, Fla.
Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant. It will increase alertness, decrease fatigue, give euphoria and elevate your mood. The bad affects of caffeine can include sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety and depression. A person can suffer the bad affects from one or two cups of coffee a day.
If you drink more than 250 mg of caffeine a day, which is about two and a half cups, you can suffer from caffeine intoxication. The symptoms include restlessness, nervousness, excitement, excessive urination, insomnia, heartburn, muscle twitching and rambling thought and speech.
It’s not easy to break the caffeine habit, but you can with a little help.
There are some withdrawal symptoms when you try to break the caffeine habit. They can include depression, constipation, runny nose, nausea, headaches and a craving for caffeine.
To quit it’s best to gradually reduce your caffeine intake. Try to reduce your daily intake of caffeine by 100 mg each week. That’s about one cup. Continue decreasing your consumption until you’re down to a safe level, which is about one cup a day. Your plan should also include relaxation, stress reduction, good nutrition and exercise.
Exercise and Skin
I mentioned to my girlfriend that since I’ve been exercising my skin has changed for the better. She said the exercise had nothing to do with my skin. Who’s right?
Regular exercise can give your skin a natural glow. Doing exercise is an excellent way to help unclog pores, get rid of toxins and give your skin a sun-kissed glow. Karate, aerobic dance, jogging and swimming are all good exercises that will help get your skin in shape. It also minimizes your need to wear makeup. Here are some things to remember for beautiful skin. Drink plenty of water. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables high in fiber. Rinse salt deposits from your skin after exercising. Keep your hair pulled from your face when you work out. Try using a spray of Evian mineral water after each facial cleansing to seal in moisture. Let your natural beauty shine by getting your body in shape.
I just bought a cream that claims to get rid of the toxins that cause cellulite. This cream isn’t working and this is my third jar. Why doesn’t this cream work?
Toxins have nothing to do with cellulite. Cellulite is just fat that has pushed itself between the walls of your connective tissue. Nothing you put on the outside of your body will reduce the fat on the inside. The only way to reduce cellulite is to reduce your fat intake and do some exercise. You need to get involved in 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 to 4 times a week. With the aerobic exercise, you should do resistance training, such as lifting weights or using active workout machines no less than 3 times a week. Trash the cream and do something that works, exercise.
Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician. For help with drug, alcohol and mental health problems call Sobriety Through Outpatient drug, alcohol and mental health treatment center at (215) 227-7867. Watch or listen to our recovery media stations every day at www.stop-recoveryradio.com.
"Are starchy foods like corn bad for you if you’re losing weight? I like corn.”
Starchy foods are important for balanced nutrition. They supply you with needed fiber, minerals and vitamins. Starchy foods are also low in fat. The fat content increases when you add butter or other high calorie sauces that contain saturated fat.
Don’t stop eating corn. It’s an excellent source of Vitamins A and C. It’s also low in sodium and fat. Sweet corn can be either yellow or white. Ears should be full with firm, bright, milky kernels, but that give a little when pressed. Look for fresh green husks. The husk should be dry and the silk yellow.
There are several ways to cook corn. When boiling, use enough water to cover the corn. You should cover the pot and cook rapidly for 7 to 10 minutes. You can season your corn by adding oregano, parsley and Italian seasoning to the water.
You can also add cooked corn kernels to your pancakes, waffles and muffins. You shouldn’t eat corn with proteins because it’s a starchy food. Corn will digest best with other vegetables.
Kids and fitness
How can I get my kids involved in fitness?
If you walk or jog on a track or a similar flat surface, you can take your kids along for the workout. If their legs are too short to keep up with you while walking or jogging, let them ride a tricycle or bicycle around the track while you jog. If you have a daughter who still plays with dolls and has a baby carriage, she can walk her dolls while you get in your workout. Outdoor skates and roller blades are popular. Skating promotes agility, coordination, builds strong thighs and hips, burns fat and works the heart and lungs. Make sure you monitor your kids so they don’t overdo it. When they get tired tell them to rest. Remember: Start them out slowly so they don’t become discouraged. Teach your kids to get high on fitness and say no to drugs.
Cycling and kids
“How can I make my kids’ bike rides safe?”
After your child has mastered the art of riding a bicycle, they have an excellent source for conditioning. When you ride a bicycle for fun or exercise remember to start with short distances at a steady pace. Build on your distance, speed and the time. To get the most out of your cycling, you should adjust your seat so that, your legs are fully extended when the pedal is at the bottom of your bike. At the top, the toes should be tilted back and the heel slightly down. You should always pedal with the ball of the foot and not your toes.
Riding a bike is a great form of exercise for your kids. But, you should follow some safety tips. More than 2 million children receive bicycles for gifts each year. Each day one child dies from a bicycle injury. Most of these injuries can be avoided.
Follow all traffic rules.
Make sure you give signals when you make turns, stop for red lights and never ride against traffic.
Maintain your brakes and tires.
Be more cautious when riding in the rain.
Wear reflective clothes at night.
Make sure your child wears a helmet.
Wearing helmets could reduce the death rate resulting from bicycles by 50 percent.
These are just a few safety tips that will make your child’s ride safe.
Want to lose 30 pounds
“I want to lose 30 pounds, but I just can’t seem to get motivated. What can I do to get motivated?”
Upper Darby, Pa.
Well, Sonja, what you need to do is ask yourself these questions: Do you feel as good as you want to physically? Do you have to be out of shape? Can working out make a difference? If you’ve answered yes to these questions set aside one hour a day, four days a week to workout. Don’t wait until next week, start today. Just 4 hours a week. Knowing what you’re going to accomplish can be your motivation until it becomes a healthy habit. Try something fun, like a dance class or roller-skating twice a week. How about biking with your friends or walking with your mate? So, turn off the TV, tune in your favorite radio station and do some stretching — or just get up and jam.
I’m totally against low calorie fad diets. Instead, lose weight on a diet you live with forever. Your weight loss will be slower, but lasting. Here’s a sample menu you might be able to live with. In the morning you should have fruit. Try a banana and some grapes. Later have an apple or some melon. You should try to get in about 500 calories before lunch. At lunch, have a low fat protein like fish or chicken and a non-starchy vegetable or a salad. You should wait an hour and then have a starchy carbohydrate like pasta, rice or whole gain bread. For dinner try some beans and a salad. Wait an hour, and have a starchy food like rice or bread with a salad or a vegetable. This will add up to 5 to 6 small meals. Drink water 1/2 hour before eating. If you’re not ready to change every meal, start with one or two.
“All my friends give beef a bad rap. Can I eat beef without feeling guilty?”
If you eat beef sensibly there is no reason you cannot include it in your diet. Three ounces of cooked, lean beef contains one quarter of your daily requirements for iron and is a good source for zinc and B vitamins. That same three ounces contains 24 grams of protein, which is half your daily protein requirement for most people. When you buy beef, choose lean cuts of meat, such as flank steak, top round and ground sirloin. Select is the best grade of meat, next comes “choice” and then
“prime.” By choosing “select” you reduce the fat by 15 percent. Meats with less fat tend to dry out fast during cooking, so you should boil them before cooking or marinate in your favorite sauce. Eat meat alone or with a salad. You should skip the potatoes, bread and the pasta because these foods will slow down the digestion of meat. You can eat starchy foods later with a non-protein meal. Beef is a good food source if you know how to include it in your diet.
Eating before bed
“I don’t get home from work until late. I’m usually hungry when I get home. Everybody tells me you’ll get fat if you eat before you go to bed. Is this true?”
Food eaten before bedtime will not put on weight, unless you exceed your daily nutritional needs. Your body needs food for repair, growth and energy both during the day and night. After those needs are met, your body will either store the unused food as fat or pass it out as waste. Day or night you need between 12 to 15 calories per pound of body weight to fulfill your nutritional needs. People who are very active may need more calories. Very few adults need less than 1200 calories daily. If your lifestyle forces you to eat before going to bed, eat. Make sure you avoid sugary foods they could keep you from going to sleep.
Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.
For help with drug, alcohol and mental health problems call Sobriety Through
Outpatient the area’s most unique drug, alcohol and mental health treatment center at 215-227-STOP (7867) or 1-800-660-STOP (7867). Watch or listen to our recovery media stations everyday at www.stop-recoveryradio.com.
Listen to “Tips to be Fit” with Vince daily at www.stop-recoveryradio.com.