What’s up with the green smoothie?

There was no small amount of shock at my last column. My father-in-law said to me last Sunday dinner, “Did you really have two Diet Cokes, an Egg McMuffin, and a candy bar for breakfast?”

I have to admit that my confession sparked a renewed interest in healthy eating.

Everywhere I look, the green smoothie has overtaken breakfast. My friends are blending for their kids. Our CEO is drinking one during morning meetings. People on the street are walking around with them.

So, while I initially balked at the thought of spinach for breakfast, I’m sipping a blend this morning and asking myself, “What’s up with the green smoothie?”

1. To eat or not to eat.

When it is a matter of eating the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many people have found success in drinking those nutrients versus not getting any nutrition at all.

For example, a standard 24-ounce green juice may contain as many as three apples, three bunches of kale, a cucumber, a whole lemon and a bunch of carrots. Most people wouldn’t consume that amount of produce in one sitting, but they could drink it while on the go and still enjoy the nutritional benefits.

2. Remember the fiber.

How you prepare your juice drink can make a big difference in the amount of fiber you consume and the nutritional value of your juice drink. Those who use a blender to prepare their juice drink are more likely to retain some of the fiber that is often lost when using a juicer machine. Yet both remove a large amount of dietary fiber from the fruits and vegetables.

Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet and shouldn’t be overlooked when preparing juices. Dietary fiber helps regulate digestive functions, helps to lower cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels and aids in weight loss. The only effective way to incorporate healthy amounts of dietary fiber into your diet is through eating the whole fruit or vegetable.

3. Know what you’re eating.

The quality of the output depends on the quality going in. Yes, a juice drink provides a large amount of produce in one serving, but that drink may also contain things you didn’t expect.

For those wanting to control diabetes or high cholesterol levels, juicing has been a popular option. But many nutritionists advocate moderation in juicing as a defense against the hidden carbohydrates and sugars in most fruits and vegetables.

4. Remember to chew your food

For many seeking a kick-start for weight loss, juice cleanses offer a seductive appeal. They are popular, easily accessible, trendy, don’t require exercise and promote quick weight loss. But this notion of drinking your caloric intake on a daily basis has many dietitians and nutritionists concerned.

In a June 2014 U.S. News & World Report article, “Juice Cleanses: Health Hocus Pocus,” Lauren Blake, a registered dietitian with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, expressed her concerns.

“While cleanses might appear to work in the short term, they are not a long-term solution for weight loss and can be dangerous.”

“There’s not a lot of scientific evidence showing that cleanses work,” she says. “When you’re restricting your calories so heavily, you’re going to lose weight, but people who follow these cleanses tend to put the weight right back on and leave themselves at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies.”

If you can’t recall the last time you chewed your food, chances are you are engaged in an unhealthy weight loss strategy, which most nutritionists agree is neither safe nor effective.

It seems the green juice phenomenon is here to stay, which is a good thing in moderation. By maintaining a balance of whole foods with healthy juicing choices, along with an active lifestyle, you can enjoy the tasty benefits of juicing while optimizing good health.

Are you swimming in a toilet? 5 reasons to avoid the public pool this summer

As the weather heats up, public swimming pools beckon us to leave the comfort of our homes and venture outdoors to take a cool dip. Swimming in the public pool may be considered one of America’s favorite pastimes, but for me, no thanks. My 5 Top Reasons You Should Never Get Into A Public Swimming Pool will give you the extra ammunition you need when kids ask, “Can we go to the public pool?”

Poop

"The average bather has about a tenth of a gram of feces in his gluteal fold, which is a nice way of saying butt crack," says Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology and environmental studies at The University of Arizona. That means with five people, "you have a tablespoon of poop in the pool." Moreover, beyond the gross-out factor, without safe levels of disinfectant, you can run the risk of transmitting diseases, he says.

A CDC report of routine pool inspections released in 2010 found that nearly one in eight pools posed serious violations that threatened public health, which resulted in those pools being closed immediately.

Pee

One in 5 adults admit to peeing in a pool. Even Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps confessed, “I think everybody pees in the pool,” Phelps told The Telegraph in 2012. “It’s kind of a normal thing to do for swimmers. When we’re in the water for two hours, we don’t really get out to pee. Chlorine kills it, so it’s not bad.”

When urine (and other waste, such as sweat) mixes with chlorine, it creates an irritant called chloramine, which is what causes red, stinging eyes when swimming and can also irritate your respiratory tract, Michele Hlavsa, an epidemiologist and chief of healthy swimming for the Centers for Disease Control of Prevention explains. "It's really important to not use the pool as a restroom," she says. Chloramines are also what causes that "chlorine smell," which is a red flag for contamination.

Cryptosporidium ("Crypto")

Cryptosporidium — or Crypto, for short — is a parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. In a new report, the CDC noted 1,788 water-associated illnesses were reported between 2011 and 2012, including 95 cases that required hospitalization and one death in 32 states and Puerto Rico. Of those, the agency said Cryptosporidium was responsible for more than half the cases stemming from treated water in pools and hot tubs. While most bacteria can live in treated water for only a few hours at most, Cryptosporidium can hang on for up to 10 days. It’s protected by an outer shell that allows the parasite to survive for up to 10 days even in chlorine-treated water, so even well-maintained pools can spread Crypto among swimmers. To be safe, the CDC advises checking to see when the pool you're using was most recently inspected. Be sure you or your children don't swallow water while swimming. Also, to make sure you're not contributing to the problem, the CDC advises against swimming when you have diarrhea and for two weeks afterward, especially if you know that Cryptosporidium was the cause. Take young children to the bathroom frequently (and talk to them about not peeing or pooping in the water).

Bacteria - E. Coli

The CDC released a new study about what's lurking in the pool water. Water sampled from 161 pools in the Atlanta area showed signs of E. Coli — the bacteria most commonly associated with fecal matter.

When you forgo rinsing with soap and water before entering the pool, you introduce fecal matter into the water. A simple shower with soap before entering the water can significantly cut the risk of contamination. Check out this article on Why you SHOULD shower before you use the pool.

Be sure to change diapers in the bathroom or designated diaper-changing area — not poolside, which increases the risk of germs getting into the water.

RWI

Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs that are spread by swallowing contaminated water present in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, lakes, and oceans. According to the CDC, there has been an increase in the number of RWI outbreaks in the past two decades.

The most common RWI is diarrhea (caused by Crypto or E-coli). Other RWI infections include:

Gastrointestinal
Skin
Ear
Respiratory
Eye
Neurologic
Wound

Chlorine and other disinfectants don't kill germs instantly. Also, the mixing of chlorine with pee and sweat uses up the chlorine in the pool that would otherwise kill germs. That's why keeping chlorine at recommended levels is essential to maintain a healthy pool. If you notice a strong odor of chlorine at a public pool, it's not a good thing. It indicates a maintenance problem. A well-chlorinated pool should, in fact, have little odor.

Summer is not much fun if the water you swim in makes you sick. So be advised, if you decide to take a dip in the pool – you’ve been warned!

Emily Woll writes for North American Healthcare Inc. and drosmond.com.

6 tips to help find residential care for a bariatric patient

assistant and patientMore than one-third (34.9 percent) of American adults are obese, according to the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. A person is clinically obese if their body mass index (BMI) level is 30 or more. Overweight and obesity have become pressing global health concerns. With a higher number of bariatric and aging patients comes an increased demand for skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities that can accommodate their unique care needs. Historically, bariatric patients have faced challenges when trying to find long-term care. Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and assisted living facilities (ALFs) are having to innovate to accommodate these patients and provide high-quality care.

There are facilities that can accommodate obese patients and provide excellent care, but they may require a bit more effort and research to find. There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to locate a skilled nursing, rehab or assisted living care for a bariatric patient.

Specialized Equipment for Bariatric Patients

Ask if the facility has bariatric equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) limits how much healthcare workers are allowed to lift, so if the patient needs help getting in and out of bed toileting or bathing, special equipment will be necessary. This can include larger beds (a standard hospital bed can only hold up to 350 pounds), chairs, wheelchairs and mobility aids, and shower and bath equipment, depending on you or your love one’s needs. A heavier individual may require an electric patient lift instead of manual equipment such as a classic Hoyer lift.

Because these items are extremely expensive, the number of beds available to accommodate heavier residents at any given location will be extremely limited. Waiting lists are typically quite long, since nursing facilities are not obligated to accept patients like hospitals are.

Proper Training

Patient transfers can be tricky and dangerous for individuals of an average weight, so great care must be taken when caregivers assist heavier residents. This is for the patient’s safety and that of the facility’s employees.

“The largest risk is the issue of injuring patients and caregivers from improper transfer,” says Jeff Oldroyd from Holladay Healthcare, a nursing home located in Salt Lake City, Utah. “We do give additional training in these specific transfers to our caregivers. This training is usually provided by experienced nurses and physical therapists.”

Do not be afraid to ask the facility about special training and experience requirements for any staffers who may be caring for you or your loved one. Frequent transfers and repositioning are crucial for proper hygiene and prevention of bedsores or compression ulcers.

Adequate Space in Living Areas

A larger room or apartment is ideal for larger patients in care facilities, but do not forget to inspect communal areas such as dining rooms and activity rooms as well. Isolation can be a real concern for these patients since their mobility is typically limited. Make sure there is enough space to maneuver a larger wheelchair in the facility so you or your loved one can interact with staff and other guests outside of their room. Creating opportunities for a patient to engage and participate in social and recreational activities will improve their quality of life and may even result in weight management or even weight loss.

Appropriate Activities

While resident involvement is important, bariatric patients have specific health and activity needs. In many cases, “regular” exercise is not possible or safe for them. Make sure to ask the facility about modified activities for patients, especially if they have recently undergone surgery. This is especially important in a rehabilitation setting where a patient is working to heal and regain or improve their functional abilities. For instance, a facility with a pool and a water therapy program can provide activity options that are more conducive than typical weight-bearing and high-impact exercise programs. An experienced physical therapist will be able to adapt a PT regimen to make sure they meet their health care goals.

Compassionate Staff

Overweight patients are likely accustomed to comments about weight and physical activity. But, beyond the equipment and therapy, it’s important to know that the staff will see a bariatric patient as more than just a number on the scale. It can be difficult for anyone to find placement in a facility, and you want to make sure any special needs will be taken care of.

Ask Your Physician

Physicians often have contacts at many skilled nursing, assisted living, and rehabilitation facilities in their area. In many cases, they may be your best resource when it comes to finding a reputable facility. Communication between the facility and a physician will be key for ongoing care, so receiving a referral from your doctor will be an added bonus.

“We do have additional communication with physicians for patients with specialized needs such as obesity,” said Mark Hymas from Copper Ridge Health Care, a SNF in West Jordan, Utah. “There are specific protocols for each diagnosis, and those symptoms are monitored and shared with physicians in real time. Physicians are then able to make determinations to monitor and adjust treatments.”

Patients of any size may encounter significant obstacles and frustrations related to their healthcare. Finding a facility with the proper equipment and training, adequate space, appropriate exercise and activity programs, and compassionate staff can be difficult. However, these important tips will help you select the right care setting for yourself or your loved one.

This article was originally published by AgingCare.com. It has been republished here with permission.

What’s that bump on your wrist? Could be a ganglion cyst

Wondering what that bump on the back of your wrist might be? Chances are, it’s a ganglion cyst. In earlier days, people would treat them by smacking the lump with a heavy book (often the Bible) — hence the name “Bible bumps.”

“It’s a common problem,” explained Dr. M. Shane Frazier, orthopedic surgeon at Revere Health. “It is by far the most common tumor of the hand or wrist. Besides carpal tunnel syndrome, the next most common ailment is a ganglion cyst.”

Typically, ganglion cysts fluctuate in size and may even disappear on their own. While these cysts are not necessarily harmful and can be left alone, the main motivators for removing the cysts are their location and appearance.

Ganglion Cyst Location

As stated in an article on WebMD, the cause of ganglion cysts is unknown, however, they occur most often in women. Seventy percent of ganglion cysts occur in people between the ages of 20 to 40.

Even though these cysts are often painless, their location can create discomfort or pain. Ganglion cysts can be painful if they press on a nearby nerve, and they can sometimes interfere with joint movement.

Ganglion Cyst Appearance

For many, the size of the cyst creates unwanted attention with an awkward conversation often following. Let’s face it, a golf ball-sized lump on the top of your wrist is certain to spur a conversation among strangers.

“For some people, ganglion cysts are very small,” said Dr. Frazier. “But others can be painful and unsightly. A little while ago, I treated one approximately the size of a golf ball.”

Ganglion Cyst Treatment

If your ganglion cyst is causing pain, the treatment options may include aspiration or surgery.

Aspiration involves placing a needle into the cyst and drawing out the jelly-like soft liquid that comprises the cyst. Then an anti-inflammatory solution may be injected into the lump.

Surgery is often recommended when painful cysts interfere with normal function, attract undue attention or cause numbness or tingling.

“It’s a same-day, outpatient procedure. Usually the scar looks pretty good, the pain goes away almost immediately and most people report motion returning quickly following surgery,” said Dr. Frazier.

Although not life-threatening, ganglion cysts can be physically painful and lead to a number of painful, embarrassing conversations. When in doubt, it is always a good idea to have your doctor check it out. This can help ensure that you receive a proper diagnosis and can discuss treatment options — apart from the Bible smacking, which is strongly discouraged.

Whether it’s carpal tunnel syndrome or a ganglion cyst, you do not need to endure the discomfort of these common “bumps in the road.” Surgical specialists such as Dr. Frazier and others with Revere Health Hand, Wrist and Elbow Center can provide effective treatment for these and other common hand and wrist conditions.

This article was originally published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.

Overtime pay: What are the rules for paying an independent caregiver?

Many people who employ in-home caregivers think of them like teenage babysitters: You agree on a price (perhaps $40 for the evening), and when you return home a few hours later, you slip them the cash and send them on their way. You likely don’t bother to report the payment to the IRS.
Although in-home caregivers have been historically treated like babysitters, recently enacted federal regulations have clarified that they have little in common with babysitters and cannot be treated as such. Home healthcare aides are, for legal classification purposes, domestic service workers who must be paid an hourly wage for all of the hours they’re providing services to your loved one. They must be paid the minimum wage, and if they work longer than 40 hours a week, you are required to pay them overtime.

Homecare agencies typically handle these technicalities for their clients and employees, but if a family decides to hire an independent caregiver, then they are responsible for making sure that these laws are correctly observed. Although hiring a private individual who has no connection to an agency is thought to be less expensive, there are some very important factors that you must take into consideration as an employer.
Tafa Jefferson, CEO of Amada Senior Care, breaks down some of the key rules and regulations that determine when your independent aide qualifies for overtime:

Does your caregiver qualify legally as a domestic service worker? As Tafa explained, the fundamental first question is critically important, but not always clear. “Only a home that is legally deemed a private home can employ a domestic service worker as a caregiver,” he said. For example, was your loved one living in the place where he or she is now receiving care? If not, the place is probably not legally a private home. What happens if your loved one does not live alone? If it’s a group setting, it may not legally be a private home.

Does your caregiver work 40 hours a week? Although we might not think of a caregiver as being on the clock whenever they are in the home with your loved one, the law makes it clear that in most cases, they are working and must be compensated like any non-exempt worker. That means they must earn a minimum wage and be paid overtime when they qualify for it. Thus, it’s critically important to keep track of all hours on a written timesheet and account for meal and sleep breaks when the caregiver is legally not entitled to compensation.

Does your caregiver stay overnight or through meal breaks? Caregivers often spend considerable time in a home, and they typically are so self-sufficient that they can take care of fitting their own meals and rest breaks into the care services they provide. Tafa explained that, as an employer, “you are obligated to keep track of these breaks in writing because it affects the hours they are considered to be working and entitled to compensation.” If your caregiver takes breaks to eat meals on the premises or to sleep on the premises, you must document when they do this and give them adequate time to have a bona fide break from work. If a caregiver’s services are needed while they are supposed to be on a break period, and they must interrupt this break period to perform duties, this time can no longer legally be considered a break—and the caregiver is entitled to compensation for the duration of what was intended to be a break period, even if overtime pay is triggered.

Is your caregiver primarily a companion? One of the most common exemptions that can be used to preclude in-home workers from minimum-wage and overtime eligibility is the “companionship services” exemption. Individuals whose primary job is to provide fellowship and protection to an elderly or sick person fall under this exemption, as long as they spend at least 80% of their time serving as a companion and no more than 20% of their time providing any kind of “care” services. Once this threshold is crossed, the worker is legally reclassified as a domestic service worker and must be compensated at least the minimum wage, plus overtime as necessary.

In many situations, it’s not always easy or realistic to understand when to pay overtime to a caregiver. But, it is your job as a private employer to determine whether your caregiver qualifies legally as a domestic service worker, to keep track of hours worked, to understand what constitutes a bona fide break, and to distinguish between an in-home companion and a true caregiver. If you feel unsure about taking on all of these responsibilities on your own, you can turn to the services of a professional home care agency.

Standing up against the need to be a couch potato

For the past three years, I have been trying to lose the same five pounds.

I’ll lose a couple pounds, feel like I’m doing really well, and then celebrate by going out for ice cream. I know I need to get back to the gym, beat the scale and (more importantly) develop good exercise habits, but I’m just not motivated.

According to R.J. Shephard’s article, “Aging and Exercise,” in the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, I am in good company: It is difficult to motivate the vast majority of older adults to exercise regularly. But after doing some research, I’ve discovered ways to get recommitted.

Weigh yourself daily. In a study at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, of 3,026 dieting adults, those who weighed themselves more frequently lost more weight over two years or regained fewer pounds. That makes sense to me. I got frustrated at not losing the pounds, so I quit weighing myself to avoid having a bad day. I need to force myself to look at those numbers.

Stick a model on your fridge. Seriously, this works. But you have to choose people based on your motivational style. In a series of three studies, Penelope Lockwood and colleagues discovered that some people are motivated by success and others are motivated by failure. So, if you’re motivated to succeed, put a slim model on your fridge. If you’re motivated to avoid failure, put an example of a failed dieter where you can see it. I’m not sure which strategy works best for me, so I’m going to pin up Gisele Bundchen and a close-up of my cellulite.

Get rid of the candy jar. Why, oh why, do I keep filling up my candy jar with my favorite chocolate treats? A Wall Street Journal article reported that in a four-week study of 40 secretaries, when candy was visible in a clear, covered dish, participants ate 2.5 pieces of chocolate on top of the 3.1 candies they would have eaten had the chocolates been in an opaque container. Moving the dish closer, so the subjects could reach the candy while at their desks, added another 2.1 candies a day to their intake. I keep the candy jar handy to increase the esprit de corps at work, but I am sabotaging myself in the process.

If all else fails, imagine yourself as a weightlifter. Believe it or not, there is something to visualization – even when it comes to exercise. Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, compared “people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads.” He found that the group of participants who conducted mental exercises of the weight training increased muscle strength by almost half as much (13.5 percent) as those who went to the gym (30 percent). So, if I can’t get to the gym, it helps to know that mental practices are almost as effective as true physical practice and that doing both is more effective than either alone.

Now that I am recommitting myself to exercising, I have a few things to do: get back on the scale, pin up some motivating pictures, get rid of my office candy jar and imagine myself thin and fit. Now, I need an exercise partner.

This article was originally published in the OCRegister.com. It has been republished here with permission.

Listening for the silent epidemic: Hepatitis C

It’s been called a silent epidemic, a woefully underdiagnosed disease with a whopping 40 percent mortality rate that only seems to be increasing with time.

Hepatitis C infections can cause chronic liver disease, liver cancer, a swollen abdomen, gastrointestinal bleeding, skin yellowing and fatigue. Yet many of the 4 million patients infected with Hepatitis C do not learn of their diagnosis for decades until they begin showing end-stage symptoms that are typically irreversible and difficult to manage and treat.

Why is this deadly disease not being diagnosed much earlier in its progression? The fact is that most people don’t get tested because they don’t realize they’re at risk. That means education and awareness are the most important weapons we have to stop Hepatitis C from inflicting this pain and suffering.

I sat down with Dr. Mohammad Alsolaiman, a gastroenterologist at Central Utah Clinic, to learn the key things we need to know to protect ourselves and our loved ones:

Older folks are at the highest risk
Alarmingly, it’s the baby boomer generation that comprises the vast majority of undiagnosed Hepatitis C patients — and yet they’re likely to not realize the need to be tested. Dr. Alsolaiman’s patients are always surprised to learn that many Hepatitis C infections occurred decades ago.

Undiagnosed Hepatitis C also comes at a very high price tag for society
Individuals who develop cirrhosis and end-stage liver cancer from Hepatitis C infection typically require a liver transplant, adding to an already overburdened list of patients waiting for a donor. And the cost of medical care for patients living with Hepatitis C is expected to nearly triple in just two decades, to $85 billion by 2027 if no intervention is undertaken.

There are many routes to infection
The leading risk factors for Hepatitis C are unprotected sex, drug use (including intra-nasal), blood transfusions prior to 1992, incarceration, tattoos, occupational exposure, and surgeries performed prior to the implementation of universal precautions. Patients who undergo hemodialysis or were born to an infected mother also are at risk.

Hepatitis C is fully curable in most of the patients
Unlike HIV infections, a Hepatitis C infection can be cured in most of the patients. In fact, even oral medication is an option, and newly available medications have made it possible to be free of the virus in 8-12 weeks. The success rate is more than 90 percent.

Hepatitis C drugs are far more advanced now
We’ve come a long way since the first Hepatitis C drug, Interferon, was introduced with a paltry 10 to 20 percent success rate with a very bad reputation for intolerable side effects. This has been replaced today with more powerful oral and effective drugs.

There’s no reason for people to suffer and die from a disease that is highly treatable when caught early. To find out more about Dr. Alsolaiman or to schedule an appointment to find out more, connect with Central Utah Clinic for information on services, locations, events and more.

This article was originally published in The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.

Seeing the signs: What to say when it’s time to take away the car keys

It’s an experience that Americans dread. As recent surveys by Caring.com and the National Safety Council indicate, most people would rather discuss funeral arrangements with their loved ones than taking away their driving privileges. But while this conversation is difficult, it is necessary for the safety of both your loved one and other drivers. I had the opportunity to interview Andy Cohen, CEO of Caring.com, to learn how to best have this conversation.

Build a case.

“A new survey on Caring.com reported that roughly 14 million Americans have been in a road incident caused by an elderly person,” Cohen stated. “It’s a difficult but necessary conversation that we need to have.”

Prepare for this conversation by keeping detailed records of traffic violations, minor accidents, and anything that causes you to worry. Watch for an increase in traffic tickets, getting lost on familiar routes in familiar areas, and getting into more fender benders.

You should also calculate the monetary savings that will benefit your loved one when he or she gives up driving, such the cost of gasoline, maintenance, car insurance, repairs and registration fees. Your approach should be caring, but it also needs to be thorough and specific.

Get support from other sources.

While it’s important to have the conversation directly with your loved one, it can be helpful to ask for support from other sources. Driving assessments can be used to confirm to your loved one that he or she should not be driving. Your religious adviser can help you handle this conversation in a compassionate, loving manner. In some cases, your loved one may listen to recommendations more easily when they come from an outside authority whom your loved one trusts rather than from a family member. As a last resort, you may ask your loved one’s physician to write a prescription stating, “No driving.”

Research and arrange alternative transportation.

Your loved one will undoubtedly find it difficult to give up independence, so the more you can do in advance to have alternative means of transportation available, the easier the transition will be.

A good transportation system will not only take a passenger from point A to point B but will also put your loved one in control of routes and final destinations. Also, the transportation system should maintain a senior’s sense of dignity and security.

“No one wants to be the one to take away Mom or Dad’s keys, but sometimes it can be crucial for their safety,” said Cohen. “Plus, many seniors would actually prefer to hear it from a family member than from a police officer on the road.”

Taking away the car keys is not a conversation anyone wants to have, but remembering to express your concerns firmly and honestly, inviting support from other sources that will provide additional love and support, and arranging alternative forms of transportation to best fit your loved one’s needs is a healthy approach to this transition.

This article was originally published on OCRegister.com. It has been republished here with permission.

The ‘juicy’ secrets and surprising benefits of juicing

As we get older, our bodies process food differently. We tend to have smaller appetites, chewing and swallowing can become more difficult, and preparing meals can become more of a challenge for a variety of reasons.

One trendy, healthy way to get added nutrients is through juicing. Whether you are a purist and press apples straight from the tree or rely on store-bought products to supplement your meals, juicing can be a healthy addition to your loved one’s dietary routine.

Eating whole fruits and vegetables is the best way to ingest nutrients as well as dietary fiber, but many older individuals are more likely to consume produce in inconspicuous liquid form. Best of all, vegetables like spinach, carrots, and kale can be incorporated into juice recipes without the consumer even tasting it. Flavors from the fruit you use typically overshadow those of the veggies.

If you struggle to get your loved one to fit produce into their diet, juicing is a healthy and palatable alternative. However, there are a few things to consider when choosing the healthiest juice possible.

Choose your ingredients wisely.

While there is no magical cure for all of the body’s aches and pains, natural nutrients in fruits and vegetables can be helpful in easing pain, reducing inflammation and bolstering immune system function. Certain varieties and combinations of produce can have both a targeted and overall beneficial effect on your body.

For instance, joint pain can be assuaged by juicing carrots, parsley, ginger, and leeks. Leeks and ginger are high in antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals that can help to reduce inflammation in the body. For a boost in immune and cardiac health, try a combination of pomegranate, orange, and garlic. Pomegranates lower cholesterol and blood pressure and increase the speed at which heart blockages (atherosclerosis) dissolve. With a little bit of research, you can find a healthy juice recipe for almost every ailment you can imagine.

Consider your juicing method.

There are a number of ways to produce your own nutrient-rich juices. Traditional or centrifugal processes use fast-spinning blades to pulverize produce. Heat and air are added during this process—two things that supposedly reduce the nutrients that actually make it into your glass.

Masticating or “cold-pressed” processes extract juice by pressing and grinding fruits and vegetables without adding heat. If you are looking for a ready-to-drink cold-pressed option, then brands like MUSE are a convenient way to reap the benefits without purchasing a machine and doing the work yourself.

Proponents of the raw food movement believe that cooking denatures important vitamins and minerals in food. It is true that some compounds like vitamin C are easily damaged by exposure to heat, air, and water. But, in some cases, cooking actually increases antioxidants and other beneficial components of certain fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, and carrots.

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish through juicing, it may not matter if your product is cold-pressed or made in a traditional machine.

Be careful not to juice everything.

Although most fruits and vegetables can be juiced, there are a few things to stay away from. This is especially important for seniors.

There is some disagreement over whether or not to peel fruits and vegetables before juicing, but it isn’t a black and white issue. Apples, grapes, cucumbers and even bananas can be processed and consumed without peeling. We waste a great source of nutrition by removing and discarding the skins and rinds of produce. However, there are a few items that are best consumed “naked.” Citrus fruits feature tough rinds that are still nutrient dense, but they also contain oils that can cause indigestion and stomach issues if consumed in large quantities. Try not to throw away the healthy white pith just underneath the rind, though. Mangos are best juiced without the skin as well since this part can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Many people like to add leafy greens like kale and spinach to their fruit juices and smoothies, but there are a few varieties that must be avoided or approached with caution. Rhubarb greens can be harmful and release toxic substances, so keep these out of your juicer. Carrot greens have received a bad reputation, but they are not actually poisonous. Some people may have a sensitivity to this part of the vegetable, so if you aren’t sure whether you or a loved one might have a reaction, then it is best to steer clear of them.

Purchase your produce wisely.

When juicing or making smoothies, especially when using whole ingredients with skins and greens intact, it is wise to opt for organic produce. Although fruit and vegetable peels are great sources of concentrated nutrients, pesticides tend to accumulate in the peels of conventionally produced fruits and vegetables and even on the green tops of root vegetables.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has pioneered a “Dirty Dozen” list that ranks produce items according to the amount of pesticide residue they contain. Apples happen to top the list as the worst offender, which is a shame since apple peels are extremely beneficial. If you plan to use conventional produce, be sure to thoroughly wash, and even peel certain items. Pesticides and insecticides can remain even if you take these precautions, so carefully consider purchasing at least some ingredients in organic form.

As we age, it’s even harder to treat your body right and get the nutrients you need, but diet has a significant impact on overall health and the proper function of the body. Juices can be used as a natural dietary supplement in lieu of processed vitamin capsules and tablets, or you can craft your own produce combinations to help improve specific areas of your health.

Achieving proper nutrition through real foods is better than opting for meal replacement shakes and pills, but it is important to approach juicing with common sense and do your research or consult with a physician or nutritionist if you have any questions.

This article was originally published on agingcare.com. It has been republished here with permission.

5 Fun activities to share with your loved one in a nursing home

It’s Sunday afternoon and you’re getting ready to visit your grandma at her nursing facility, but you are at a loss of how the two of you can spend fun, quality time together. What are some things you can do that both of you will enjoy? This time is precious and it’s important to make the most of it. Below is a list of different creative activities you and your loved one can do while they are in a nursing facility.

Crafts

Whether or not you’re a creative person, simple crafts can be a fun way to add some color to your time together. Crafts you and your loved one can do range from making holiday decorations to scrapbooking and even painting.

Mark Walker, director of therapy at Orem Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing, says their staff enjoys providing seasonal and holiday-oriented craft projects for their residents.

“We just finished doing a Valentine’s project where we cut out hearts and placed them all over the facility.” Not only are these activities fun, but they can also help your loved one’s cognitive and motor skills.

Hand massages

Some nursing facilities, such as Provo Rehabilitation & Nursing, offer hand massages as one of their regular activities. You can give your own loved one a hand massage or manicure as a way to rejuvenate and relax them. Regular touch also communications multiple positive emotions that can create a deeper connection. Try using essential oils or hand lotion in their favorite scent.

Make connections (phone call, storytelling)

Use your time together to share and collect memories and stories. Chances are your loved one has some great stories from growing up that you haven’t heard yet. Once they are gone, those stories may be lost forever. Take the time to ask them about their life and favorite memories. Consider journaling or recording these conversations so you can keep them for years to come.

Entertainment

Another way to bond with your loved one is to find a mutual love of some sort of entertainment and enjoy it together. Whether it’s reading a book, playing a board game, listening to music, or watching a favorite movie, entertainment is the perfect way to spend an afternoon with each other. Many facilities, such as Orem Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing, provide different types of media that you can enjoy together. Consider inviting your loved one’s friends at the nursing facility to enjoy with you.

“Usually our biggest focus is on hobbies that our residents do at home,” said Walker. “We often start up a bowling session, which is great for balance and upper body strength, and the Wii gaming system is an excellent tool. We like the Wii Fit Program because it encourages standing balance and weight shifting activities.”

Outings

While you may have to take a few precautions, going out or exercising can be a fun way to spend time with your loved one. You can garden, go out to lunch, see a play, walk to the park, or even stretch outside. The fresh air and quality time is sure to make for a wonderful day together.

If you’re not sure what to do with your loved one who’s staying in a nursing facility, try one of these activities. Remember, the important thing is that you make the most of your time together.

This article was originally published on The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.