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December Health



Managing diabetes during the holiday season


screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-9-57-10-amThe holiday season is synonymous with many things, including food. Family gatherings and holiday office parties wouldn’t be the same without great food.

Food plays such a significant role during the holiday season that many people are worried about overindulging. Some celebrants can afford to overindulge, while others must resist temptation. Diabetics fall into the latter category, as the festive mood of the season does not mean people with diabetes can throw dietary caution to the wind. With the holiday season upon us, diabetics can heed the following tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help them stay on a healthy track.

• Stick to your normal routine. While the holiday season can be unpredictable, the CDC advises diabetics stick to their normal routines as closely as possible. Because holiday guests cannot control food served to them at family gatherings or parties, the CDC recommends diabetics offer to bring a healthy, diabetic-friendly dish along to any parties. In addition, don’t skip meals during the day in anticipation of a large holiday meal. Doing so makes it hard to control blood sugar levels.

• Be extra careful with alcohol. Alcohol is served or readily available at many holiday gatherings, and many people overindulge because of the festive mood of the season. Overindulging in alcohol is dangerous for anyone, but diabetics must be especially mindful of their alcohol consumption. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and interact with diabetes medicines. Diabetics who want to enjoy a holiday libation should keep their alcohol consumption to a minimum.

• Eat slowly. Eating slowly can benefit anyone during the holiday season. Eating at a leisurely pace gives diners’ brains ample time to signal that their bodies are full. By eating quickly, diners may be eating more calories than they hoped to eat, and that can lead to uncomfortable feelings of fullness after a meal. Diabetics who can slow down their eating are less likely to overindulge in less healthy holiday foods that can affect their blood sugar levels.

• Remain active. The holiday season can be hectic, as adults often must juggle extraordinarily busy social schedules with the responsibilities of everyday life. Many people sacrifice time at the gym to ease the burden of hectic holiday schedules, but diabetics must resist that temptation. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that routine physical activity helps diabetics keep their blood glucose levels in their target range. Physical activity also helps the hormone insulin absorb glucose into all of the body’s cells for energy. That extra energy boost can help diabetics fend off holiday-related fatigue.

Diabetics face a lot of temptation come the holiday season. But with the right plan of action in place, men and women with diabetes can enjoy a healthy holiday season.



Did you know? 

Many people make losing weight and/or getting fit their New Year’s resolutions, and the dawn of a new calendar year is often a great time to find discounts on gym memberships. According to Consumer Reports, many gyms and fitness centers, recognizing the desire people have to start the year off on a healthy foot, will greatly discount the cost of memberships in January. But signing up for a discounted gym membership on the morning of January 1 is not the only way to save money and still get fit. Prospective members willing to commit to 12-month memberships may be able to get a gym with costly initiation fees to waive that fee. In addition, e-commerce businesses like Groupon® and LivingSocial may also offer discounted memberships to area gyms through their websites. Fitness-minded people may also be eligible for health club rebates through their health insurance plans. In such instances, health insurance providers may reward policy holders who visit the gym a predetermined number of times in a specific time frame (i.e., 50 visits in six months) with rebates. Such rebates can save club members several hundred dollars per year, greatly reducing the overall cost of their gym memberships.


Ways to stay healthy this holiday season

With the holiday season upon us, many people’s schedules are hectic once again. There are social events and family gatherings to attend, shopping ventures to make, and decorating to be done. While fun, the holiday season can be a time of added pressure, which leads to stress and other unhealthy situations.

At a time when you want to be at your best, stress can affect your physical well-being. The American Psychological Association says the hustle and bustle of the holidays has psychological consequences for some people. More people are inclined to feel that their stress increases, rather than decreases, around the holidays. The National Institute of Mental Health says chronic stress can lower immunity and cause excretory, digestive and reproductive systems to stop working properly. Stress also may cause you to eat unhealthy snacks to cope, and that can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Stress is not the only potential health hazard that can arise around the holidays. A greater number of parties expose you to an abundance of foods and drinks you may not consume on a regular basis, and that can lead to a lot of mindless eating. Weight gained during this time of year can be difficult to shed come January, when colder temperatures challenge many peoples’ motivation to exercise.

Also, social settings put you in close contact with a greater number of people, potentially increasing your exposure to germs.

You can still feel your best during the holidays. Follow these tips for maintaining a healthy mind and body.

• Get the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine can protect you against various strains of the flu. Get a flu shot before the holidays so you are ready for cold and flu season.

• Carry disinfecting wipes. Germs can linger on surfaces long after an infected person has come and gone. Studies from researchers at the University of Arizona in Tucson have found the flu virus — and even the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA — on airline tray tables. Buses, trains and doors all may be harboring germs. Wipe down surfaces with disinfecting wipes and allow them to air-dry before touching them. This can help you avoid coming into contact with germs.

• Balance your activities. It can be tempting to overbook your schedule with a ton of activities, but this may ultimately prove stressful. Leave days open to relax and do things you want to do, such as viewing Christmas light displays or even just unwinding at home with a good book. Try delegating some tasks to others in the household so you don’t take on too much responsibility.

• Keep up an exercise routine. Don’t stray too far from your exercise schedule. You may have to move workout times to free up other time later in the day for shopping or parties. Early morning is a good time to exercise because it gets you moving first thing in the morning and might even encourage you to hit the sack a little earlier each night, ensuring you get all the sleep you need. Exercise also can improve energy levels and relieve stress.

• Don’t focus on food. Focus more on enjoyable activities that keep you moving rather than always being seated around the table for a big meal. Save indulgences for one or two treats on the holidays and eat sensibly otherwise.

• Talk to someone. If the holidays have you feeling blue, talk to a friend or family member. If you need more professional support, find a social worker or psychologist that can help you work through stress and other feelings.


Hepatitis A is among the most common vaccine preventable


Dr. Christine Weyman, Medical Director

Hepatitis A (HAV) is among the most common vaccine preventable infections acquired during travel. It is endemic in parts of Africa and Asia and the CDC recommends pre-travel vaccination beginning at age 12 months. The vaccine is also very effective for post exposure prevention provided it is given within 2 weeks of exposure. The risk is highest for those that visit rural areas and eat or drink in settings of poor sanitation.

Transmission occurs through direct person to person contact via the fecal -oral route, contaminated water or ice, contaminated raw or inadequately cooked shellfish, vegetables and other foods.  People are most infectious 1-2 weeks before onset of symptoms and jaundice, when the amount of virus shed in the stool is the highest. They usually become non contagious one week after jaundice, however children can shed the virus for months. Persons become symptomatic about 4 weeks after exposure and many, especially children may have no symptoms but are still contagious. Symptoms may be mild or severe and include fever anorexia nausea abdominal pain and jaundice. Diagnosis is confirmed by IgM antibodies to HAV.

Infected food handlers pose a high risk for propagating the disease and many outbreaks have occurred in recent years: proper hand washing is imperative. The HAV vaccine is routinely given to children age 12 months and is available for anyone who wishes to prevent contracting hepatitis A.

If you have any questions about Hepatitis A, call your health professional or your local health department.


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