August Timely Topics- back to school

August is a strange month. It’s the only month without a major holiday. Although it still feels like the height of summer, by the end of the month kids are back in school. I remember the struggle to get my sons into bed early when it’s still daylight at 9 PM.

August is a strange month. It’s the only month without a major holiday. Although it still feels like the height of summer, by the end of the month kids are back in school. I remember the struggle to get my sons into bed early when it’s still daylight at 9 PM.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

August Timely Topics

Most schools encourage and even require vaccination to protect all children from disease. This has become a controversial and contentious topic so we’re going to visit the medical reason vaccinations make sense.

Measles-not gone, not forgotten

Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The start of school in August reminds me of my college days- especially since I met my husband in college, the University of Oklahoma. I was studying pre-med; he was in graduate school, using his veterans’ educational benefit after discharge from the Army. Here are a couple of posts about his military service and our courtship.

Bullets to Blessings

Two Words and Two Left Feet

Of course, the main goal of school is education- lectures, textbooks, assignments, studying, projects, experiments, and tests. Reading is vital to all of these-books are the basic building blocks. That’s why Dolly Parton gives books away- read why here.

Overcoming the Dream Killers

Overcoming the dream killers-Watercress Words.com

Can medical knowledge make you a better patient?

And speaking of tests, here’s one for you. Find out how much you know about medicine by taking this quiz that I wrote especially for blog readers.

CAN MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE MAKE YOU A BETTER PATIENT?

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Surprising health benefits of plant based eating

Like you, I want to know more about healthy eating, but find published nutrition information conflicting, confusing, and complicated. But almost all of it seems to agree on one thing-eating more whole plant based unprocessed foods is the best choice, with proven health benefits and little if any harm.

Like you, I want to know more about healthy eating, but find published nutrition information conflicting, confusing, and complicated. But almost all of it seems to agree on one thing-eating more whole plant based unprocessed foods is the best choice, with proven health benefits and little if any harm.

In this post I’m introducing you to two books and associated websites that present the evidence for the benefit of plant based eating and explain in easy to understand terms how to do it.

SURPRISING BENEFITS OF PLANT BASED EATING

Over 30 years ago, a father-son team showed the world the results of “the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted” , so I wonder why it seems we’re just now believing that what we eat influences our health and lifespan for better or worse.

(several affiliate links are in this post. )

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted

by  T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D and Thomas M. Campbell, M.D.

They looked at more than 350 variables of health and nutrition with surveys from 6,500 adults in more than 2,500 counties across China and Taiwan, and conclusively demonstrated the link between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

“What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet. “

Amazon

T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

At the Center for Nutrition Studies website, you can meet Dr. Campbell , learn the history of the China study and explore

“Eat whole plant based foods”

It’s a lifestyle, not a diet

Dr. T. Colin campbell

How Not to Die- Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease 

by Michael Greger, M.D. with Gene Stone

Like the Campbells, Dr Greger has reviewed thousands of studies of nutrition and concluded that major chronic diseases-heart disease, diabetes, cancer-are caused by the foods we eat, and can be prevented, even reversed by changes in our diet. He too advocates whole food, plant based diet. He recommends

  • Avoid refined processed carbs-chips, pastries, jams, condiments
  • Avoid wheat and gluten
  • Avoid grain fed meat and feedlot chicken
  • Avoid concentrated and synthetic sweeteners, and sweet drinks
  • Avoid commercial oils

Instead, we should be eating

  • Olive oil
  • Grass fed, free range meat
  • Vegetables, legumes, nuts
  • Low sugar fruits
  • Tea, coffee
  • Dark chocolate, herbs, seasonings

NutritionFacts.org

At this website, founded by Dr. Greger, you can

In this video about causes of cancer, Dr. Greger refers to one of Dr. Campbell’s nutrition articles.
Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen – NutritionFacts.org

I have found his Daily Dozen App useful for tracking my intake of whole plant based foods. This free app is available from the App Store.

Both of these websites are 501(c)3 non-profit entities supported by donors.

a basket filled with fruits and vegetables
Will you commit to buying, preparing, and eating more fruits and vegetable?
photo from the collection at LIGHTSTOCK.COM, an affiliate link

Thanks for joining me to explore the HEART of nutrition and health.     

I hope you will bookmark both of these sites so you can go back often and explore the information they have to offer. You may not choose to incorporate all the changes they propose, but even a few changes may improve your health, decrease your risk of chronic disease, and help you live longer.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

Consider this affiliate if you’re looking for an easy way to eat better and lose excess weight. (and help me fund this blog with the commission it generates)

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To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

July Timely Topics- Celebrations and Souvenirs

For July topics we’ll look at summer safety and wellness. We often call winter the cold and flu season, so we could call summer the poison ivy, sunburn, and blister season. Unfortunately, it’s also the season for drownings and water sport accidents.

Where I live, we just saw the first day of summer come and go. It was the longest day of the year and so far one of our hottest. Summer activities are in full swing. Many of the patients I see now are either just coming back from a vacation or getting ready to leave. I envy them because I am staying home since my husband is recovering from a broken ankle that dashed our plans for a summer trip.

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For July topics we’ll look at summer safety and wellness. We often call winter the cold and flu season, so we could call summer the poison ivy, sunburn, and blister season. Unfortunately, it’s also the season for drownings and water sport accidents.

Here in the United States we have our most important holiday of the year-Independence Day, or commonly called the 4th of July. On this day in 1776, the North American colonies of England declared political independence, and the rest, as they say, is history. Much has happened in the 243 years since, and the United Kingdom is now an ally; an American citizen, Meghan Markle, recently married into the British royal family. Friendship is worth pursuing between people and countries.

Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty lifting her torch in New York harbor

Here are links to July’s Timely Topics, or just search for what interests you

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Healthcare

Don’t drink the water-how to avoid water related illness

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

5 insect repellents to keep you safe this summer

Christmas in July

Happy Campers

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

My Reader Rewards Club is a great way to earn free books and Bibles for yourself, friends, and family! Your journey to earning free faith-based products starts HERE.
(When you sign up through these links, I can earn free books too.)

As a member, you’ll have access to inspiring literature, Bibles, special promotional offers, and much more. Earning points is easy—you’ll receive 25 points just for signing up!

Get active

Summer is the perfect time to start or increase physical activity. I’ve been using a fitness app on my phone, Aaptiv. Consider trying it. I’d appreciate you using this affiliate link through which you can help fund this blog. Thanks and enjoy.

June Timely Topics- Relaxation, Recreation, and Remembering

Where I live, the school year has ended and summer vacation has started, although summer will not officially arrive for a few more weeks, at least on this side of the equator. The swimming pool in my neighborhood is open, and the days are definitely longer and warmer.

two people dangling their legs into a pool.
Don’t let water related illness spoil your summer fun. photo from stock photo site- Lightstock.com- affiliate link

For June topics we’ll look at summer safety and wellness. We often call winter the cold and flu season, so we could call summer the poison ivy, sunburn, and blister season.

Here in the United States we have several important observances in June. One we share with Europe is June 6, known as D-Day. This was the day in 1944 when Allied troops invaded France to free the country of Nazi occupation and ultimately to end World War II. Every year since we honor the bravery of those who gave their lives that day for the cause of freedom.

We also honor freedom by remembering those who suffered in slavery for too long and the day their emancipation was finally achieved-Juneteenth.

We honor our flag on June 14th, calling it appropriately Flag Day. There is a famous story about our flag, and its connection to our national anthem; we’ll look at that story.

And let’s not forget the day we honor dads, Fathers Day, the 3rd Sunday in June. Many men “father” us in multiple ways, whether our biological father, or an uncle, brother, teacher, coach, or friend. We thank them and make them feel special this day.

a man reading to two young girls, sitting in a woman's lap
Thanks Dads for all you do for us.

Here are links to get you started enjoying the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.”

Don’t drink the water-how to avoid water related illness

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

5 insect repellents to keep you safe this summer

Words for Fathers’ Day

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer – Nat King Cole (LIVE)

Nat “King” Cole

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

My Reader Rewards Club is a great way to earn free books and Bibles for yourself, friends, and family! Your journey to earning free faith-based products starts HERE.
(When you sign up through these links, I can earn free books too.)

USE THIS LINK TO SIGN UP

As a member, you’ll have access to inspiring literature, Bibles, special promotional offers, and much more. Earning points is easy—you’ll receive 25 points just for signing up!

Winning on the water-a book review of Boys in the Boat

In Boys in the Boat the United States Olympic Rowing team of 1936 beat incredible odds to win the gold medal. But the meat of the book reviews in detail how each man came to be in that boat, especially Joe Rantz.

Why do we like books and movies about sports? Have you noticed how many sports stories there are? (This post offers multiple affiliate links to sites that offer a commission to this blog for purchases made there.)

Some sport stories are about fictional characters and situations-

  • Rocky
  • Field of Dreams
  • Bleachers
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Million Dollar Baby

But the ones that most catch our attention and our hearts are those about real people.

  • Seabiscuit
  • Chariots of Fire
  • A League of Their Own
  • The Blind Side

Rowing- athletes in a boat

Most of us know something about the big sports, like football, basketball, and baseball. We probably know less about horse racing, boxing, track, and ice skating. But rowing , rarely if ever on the sports pages or television broadcasts, isn’t one most of us know at all.


The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

In Boys in the Boat the United States Olympic Rowing team of 1936 beat incredible odds to win the gold medal. But the meat of the book reviews in detail how each man came to be in that boat, especially Joe Rantz. Based on interviews of him by the author, we learn Joe’s painful early family life, struggle to pay for college, and the grueling physical challenges of preparing for competitive rowing.

At that time the sport of rowing was dominated by the sons of wealthy families and the Ivy League colleges they attended. By contrast, the University of Washington athletes who made up the 1936 Olympic rowing team came from working class families and had to work their way through college. That they did so in the midst of a depression makes their achievement even more remarkable.

You may be surprised to learn how much the sport of rowing physically and mentally challenges the human body. To be competitive, the crew’s eight rowers must work synchronously as the leader, known as the coxswain, calls out commands to set a pace that is fast enough to win but sustainable for the length of the race.

Nazi Germany’s Olympic games

Interspersed in the boys’ stories, Daniel Brown outlines the events unfolding in Germany, as Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power. As part of their plan to dominate Europe and eventually the world, they plan to make the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin a showcase of German wealth, knowledge, power, and athletic ability. Specifically, Hitler hoped the German rowing team would beat England and Italy, the teams historically likely to win. The story of his reaction to an American team that not only challenged but upset the status quo completes a book worth reading.

My reaction to Boys in the Boat

From reading this book, I gained an appreciation for this sport that I previously knew nothing about. My husband and I listened to the audio book while on a 12 hour car trip and it kept us interested and entertained. We were inspired by a story where perseverance, courage, loyalty, and commitment were celebrated and rewarded.


This story proves history lessons aren’t dull, boring, or outdated, but can offer us information and inspiration to help us explore the HEART of health

the BOYS OF ’36 documentary

A PBS video documentary The BOYS OF ’36 is available on Amazon Video, free with Prime or available to rent.

Your comments welcome

If you read the book or watch the video, please contact me with your thoughts. I might use your comments in an update.

Thanks for visiting Watercress Words; I’d love for you to follow-use this form to get email alerts when I post something new. about the HEART of health.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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2019 Women’s health update- hormones, the heart, and HPV

results of the Nurses Health Study over 18 years shows no increase in incidence of these complications in women who used vaginal estrogen, suggesting this is a safe option for women who elect to use estrogen. (from the journal Menopause)

Multiple health issues impact women exclusively or differently than men, so new and updated information is important to share. The issues we women face vary with our age, stage of life and health status.

Let’s look at some medical news about women’s health issues, information I picked up recently from several medical journals I follow.

This is current, general medical information that helps a doctor and patient make decisions about what is right for her. Medical recommendations and practice changes as we learn new things.
If you deal with any of these issues , please discuss with your doctor before  taking any action.

I’m illustrating this post with photos of art featuring women. I’ll tell you more about the source at the end.

statue of a woman holding an infant

Human papillomavirus and cancer 

Infection with the human papillomavirus, HPV, can cause  genital warts and cervical cancer.

The percentage of young women with confirmed HPV (human papillomavirus) infection  in the United States fell significantly from 2006 to 2012. Women who had received the HPV vaccine showed the greatest decline in infection rates, compared to those who had not. Even one dose was effective, even though 2 or 3 are recommended.

A new study reported by the New England Journal of Medicine shows that women who become infected with the HPV strains 16 and 18 have a much higher risk of changes in their cervix called CIN-cervical intraepithelial neoplasia-which can be a precursor to cancer. These changes may not be picked up by a Papanicolaou (Pap) test.

Thus, protection against infection with HPV should also provide protection against cancers caused by HPV.

Human papillomavirus vaccine

Gardasil, a vaccine which targets the HPV has been available to females and males from 9 years old to 26 years old. Now the age has been extended through age 45 years for both genders.

Here is a link to detailed information about HPV vaccination from the National Cancer Institute.


Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines

statue of a pioneer woman with rifle and infant

Long-acting reversible contraception-LARC  

Two forms of long-acting reversible contraception are available to women in the United States.

Nexplanon, a contraceptive implant, slowly releases the hormone progestin and does not have estrogen. It can be used in women who cannot take estrogen, such as those with uterine fibroids or endometrial cancer.

Intrauterine devices, IUDs, containing copper only are appropriate for women with past or present breast cancer, ischemic heart disease, and women at risk for blood clots.

Use of LARCs accounts for 12% of all contraceptive use. Additional benefits include controlling excessive menstrual bleeding, potentially saving women from surgery.

Here is a link to Quick Fact about intrauterine devices and other forms of contraception from the Department of Health and Human Services

Intrauterine Device

statue of woman, holding infant, standing next to a child

Hormone therapy and prevention of heart disease

A 2015 Cochrane review of 40,410 postmenopausal women examined the use of oral hormone therapy (estrogen with or without progesterone) taken for at least six months, compared with placebo (no real drug), to determine the effect on death from any cause, and deaths caused by heart disease, stroke, and blood clot in a leg or lung.

The review found no benefits for preventing heart attack (fatal or nonfatal), or death due to any cause.

In women who took hormones they found

 
1 in 165 women had a stroke
1 in 118 women had a blood clot in the leg or lung
1 in 242 women had a blood clot in the lung

The women in this study were all older than 60 years old, so it is possible there might be benefit in younger women.

statue of woman with arm raised and holding an infant

Vaginal estrogen and heart health

While estrogen replacement after menopause is effective at controlling the undesirable effects of night sweats, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness, it potentially increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease-heart attacks and stroke, and some cancers-breast and uterine.

However, results of the Nurses Health Study over 18 years shows no increase in incidence of these complications in women who used vaginal estrogen, suggesting this is a safe option for women who elect to use estrogen. (from the journal Menopause)

The photos- a tribute to women

I took these photos during a recent visit to Woolaroc ,a museum and wildlife preserve located in the Osage Hills of Northeastern Oklahoma. Woolaroc was established in 1925 as the ranch retreat of oilman Frank Phillips. 

These statues displayed there were all models considered for a larger project now known as the Pioneer Woman Statue in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

What do you think? Would you have chosen one of the other statues for the final version?

More women’s health info

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

a statue of a woman holding a child, "CROSSING THE PRAIRIE"
“CROSSING THE PRAIRIE” by Glenna Goodacre, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
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How common meds can hurt your skin

Medications, both prescription and over the counter, can relieve symptoms, hasten healing, and save lives. Even so, adverse reactions are always a risk with any drug. Some of these adverse reactions can involve the skin.

In a previous post I told you how smoking and sunlight affect our skin- premature aging, dryness, and increased risk of skin cancer. Here is a link for you to review or read if you missed it.

How smoking and sun affect your skin’s look and feel

Layers of the Skin diagram

Here is a review of the skin’s layers

Medications and skin -help and harm

In this post I’ll talk about ways medications can adversely affect skin health.

Medications, both prescription and over the counter, can relieve symptoms, hasten healing, and save lives. Even so, adverse reactions are always a risk with any drug. Some of these adverse reactions can involve the skin.

So it is vital that patients and doctors avoid unnecessary or inappropriate use of medications.

Sun sensitivity due to medication

As mentioned in the previous post , some medications can make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure, called drug-induced photosensitivity.

Any drug can cause a reaction, even if you have taken it before without a problem. Some of the more common “skin reaction drugs” include

  • Anti-inflammatory medications, the NSAIDs
  • Psychiatric medications
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Blood pressure lowering meds
  • Antibiotics
  • Statins-cholesterol lowering drugs

Reactions can vary from scaly rashes, blisters, redness, dryness, itching, to severe eruptions all over the body that can be painful and occasionally life threatening.

This is what your skin looks like under a powerful microscope.

Melasma-drug induced skin color change

Melasma (muh-LAZ-muh) is a common skin problem. It causes brown to gray-brown patches, usually on the face. It is much more common in women, probably because it is triggered by female hormones, so it often starts in pregnancy. Women of color are also more susceptible.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Melasma can be caused by

  • Sun exposure
  • Hormone medications-birth control pills, post -menopause hormonal therapy

Here is an excellent discussion and photos of melasma from the American Academy of Dermatology

Use antibiotics wisely for your skin’s sake

Probably the most common drugs that cause a rash or other adverse effects are antibiotics, probably because they are used so often. A

Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, sulfa, tetracycline, and ciprofloxacin can cause several skin reactions .

  • urticaria, also known as hives
  • photosensitivity, mentioned above
  • a scaley rash that may peel off
  • a measles-like rash, called morbiliform
  • blisters

So doctors prescribe antibiotics only for infections that are serious enough that the risk of adverse reaction is worth the possible benefit.

Colds,  flu, and bronchitis are caused by viruses and don’t respond to antibiotics. Even sinus and ear infections don’t always need an antibiotic to resolve. Please don’t pressure your doctor for an antibiotic when you don’t need it. Read more about antibiotic misuse at my previous post

How to navigate the antibiotic highway

6 smart facts about antibiotic use
graphic created by the Centers for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov

The American Academy of Dermatology shares

10 skin care secrets for healthier skin

What you should and shouldn’t do now

Please understand I am not saying we should never use these medications as sometimes they are the best choice for our overall health. You should be aware of the potential for reactions and report them promptly to your doctor if they occur.

If you are taking any of the drugs listed here, do not stop without talking to your doctor.

Coming soon-more skin care tips

In a future post I’ll look at common skin injuries and how to help injured skin heal.

Thanks for joining me to explore skin problems and the HEART of health. Even if it’s winter where you live, don’t forgo sunscreen; the sun doesn’t take a holiday from damaging skin.

Please share this post and follow Watercress Words where we explore and share the HEART of health.

                              Dr. Aletha 

a cute monkey checks out his face in a mirrow
We all care about our appearance, including this cute monkey. Photo by Andre Mouton on Pexels.com