Planning for a Safe and Healthy Summer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 30, 2016

Summer has finally arrived and many of us are busy planning celebrations, barbecues, and outdoor activities.  Follow these tips from our experts at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to have a healthy and safe summer.


Summer-3Deceptively Dangerous – Avoiding Burn Injuries from Sparklers

Sparklers can cause serious injury because they can burn at up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fireworks are banned in Massachusetts, but you may be traveling to a state where sparklers and other fireworks are allowed. Learn how to avoid injuries and treat burns from sparklers.

 

Summer-2Grilling Food Safely

Use a  thermometer to determine if food has been cooked to the correct temperature. To kill bacteria, hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, ground poultry to 165 degrees, and poultry parts to 180 degrees. Follow these tips and more to safely prepare foods at your next barbecue.

 

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Should You Go without Gluten?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 14, 2014

Should you avoid eating grains that contain gluten?

Today’s post is written by Caitlin Hosmer Kirby, RD, a nutritional health coach at the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, led by Dr. Donald B. Levy, Medical Director.

You’ve probably noticed an increased number of food items marked as “gluten free.” Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, certain forms of oats, and in many processed foods.  Many people are becoming increasingly concerned about eating foods containing gluten. Gluten is responsible for the reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine in celiac disease. It also has been linked to less serious gastrointestinal complaints, such as diarrhea and bloating. Today’s post looks at how gluten can affect your health and what are the benefits are of avoiding it.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder – Shining Light on the Winter Blues

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 22, 2014

You can work or read while treating seasonal affective disorder with bright light therapy.

Today’s blog post comes from Dr. Donald B. Levy, Medical Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

In late fall, as the days shorten and the temperature drops, many people note a change in their behavior and mental outlook. This may include a slight downturn in mood and a tendency to eat more carbohydrates and gain a little weight. For some people, these symptoms occur annually and become severely pronounced and disabling – a syndrome called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

The symptoms of SAD may include depression, fatigue, sleepiness, carbohydrate craving, weight gain, and loss of libido. The biochemical aspects of this condition are not fully understood, but include a shift in the circadian rhythm, abnormal secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland, and abnormal serotonin metabolism.

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Do You BYOW (Bring Your Own Water)?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 11, 2013

Reduce your BPA exposure by purchasing water bottles and other hard plastics labeled “BPA-free.”

Today’s blog post is written by Dr. Donald B. Levy, Medical Director of the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

It seems as though everywhere we look, people are carrying around bottles of water. But is this healthy choice presenting a health risk? Many plastic beverage containers contain a chemical known as bisphenol-A (BPA). So, what is BPA, and should you be avoiding it?

What Is BPA?

BPA is a chemical used in the production of epoxy resins and certain hard plastics called polycarbonates.

BPA Exposure

For most people, the primary source of exposure to BPA is through diet. BPA can migrate into food from polycarbonate food and beverage containers or from food and beverage containers that contain or are lined with epoxy resin. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) identified detectable levels of BPA in more than 90 percent of 2,517 urine samples from people six years and older.

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A Healthy Summer Outdoors

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 7, 2013

Applying sunscreen is a key part of having a safe and happy summer.

Today’s blog post is written by Dr. Donald B. Levy, Medical Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Most of us will endure many bug bites and stings, and an occasional overdose of the sun, during the summer and fall. Here are a few hints from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other sources to stay healthy.

Use Sunscreens Effectively and Intelligently:
  • Throw away sunscreens older than 1–2 years since they lose their potency over time.
  • Learn about SPF (Sun Protection Factor), ultraviolet A (UVA), and ultraviolet B (UVB) protection. SPF refers to how long a person will be protected from a burn from UVB. SPF 15 means a person can stay in the sun 15 times longer before burning. SPF 30 sunscreens are not twice as protective as SPF 15. When applied properly, the amount of UVB radiation absorbed by sunscreens with SPF 15 is 93 percent; sunscreens with SPF 30 absorb 97 percent UVB rays, and sunscreens with SPF 50 absorb 98 percent of UVB rays. Products with SPF >50 provide almost no additional increase in the protection from UVB.

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Should You Be Consuming Probiotics for Your Health?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 17, 2013

Yogurt is rich in probiotics, bacteria that's beneficial to your intestinal health and your immune system.

Today’s blog post is written by Dr. Donald B. Levy, Medical Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Not all bacteria are bad or dangerous. In fact, your large intestine (colon) is home to trillions of bacterial microoganisms, known as microflora. There are over 1,000 species or subspecies of these bacteria that have lived within each of us since birth. They form a mini-ecosystem sometimes called the colonic microbiome.

Probiotics are useful or “friendly” microorganisms that, if eaten in adequate quantity, are beneficial to our health. Some fermented foods are rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso and sauerkraut. They have been eaten for centuries and touted by many as a way to promote good health.

We are just beginning to understand how these helpful bacteria work.  For example, it is believed that healthy intestinal microflora, aided by probiotics, help to:

  • Maintain proper balance of microorganisms in our intestines, helping to control the growth of “bad” or dangerous bacteria.
  • Maintain  the intestinal barrier so that bad bacteria and inflammatory proteins do not “leak” into the body.
  • Strengthen and regulate our immune system, helping us fight off disease and control processes that lead to allergic, autoimmune, and inflammatory conditions.
  • Produce substances in the colon that help control intestinal spasm, diarrhea, constipation, and perception of pain.
  • Manufacture important substances within our bodies, such as vitamin K, folate, and short-chain fatty acids, and help mediate the breakdown of dietary carcinogens.

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Navigating Treatment Options for Back Pain

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 1, 2013

Matthew Kowalski, DC, a chiropractor at the Osher Center, provides non-surgical care for patients with back pain.

Today’s blog post is written by Dr. Donald B. Levy, Medical Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Matthew H. Kowalski, DC, a chiropractor at the Osher Center.

You have many choices when seeking options for treatment of low back pain; however, many people become overwhelmed trying to identify the most appropriate health care provider. So when should you seek treatment for low back pain and who should you see?  This post discusses how to navigate the health care system to get proper care if you are suffering from back pain.

Getting Started

Not all back pain actually requires treatment. Consider a dose of self-care as your first treatment choice. Often, a combination of patience, over-the-counter medications, ice and/or heat, avoidance of injurious activities, and remaining active will relieve uncomplicated low back pain. (Uncomplicated low back pain is an episode of pain without other health concerns or “red flags.”)

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Myths and Facts About Low Back Pain

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 27, 2013

Eighty percent of us will experience a significant episode of back pain during our lifetime.

Today’s blog post is written by Dr. Donald B. Levy, Medical Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Matthew H. Kowalski, DC, chiropractor at the Osher Center.

There is a good chance that you will experience low back pain at some point during your lifetime. In fact, 80 percent of us will experience a significant episode of back pain. It may be a mild strain, such as after a day of yard work, or it may come on for no apparent reason and be quite severe.

If you suffer from back pain, your first temptation may be to search the Internet. In fact, most patients come to their doctor only after they have consulted online information. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation available online. This post will help you distinguish between the myths and facts about low back pain.

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Tips for Preventing Lyme Disease

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 25, 2013

Fine-tipped tweezers are an effective tool for removing ticks.

Today’s blog post is written by Dr. Donald B. Levy, Medical Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacterium is spread through the bite of infected ticks. The blacklegged tick (or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) spreads the disease in our area of the country. Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas (see below). In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted. Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Nymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see. Follow these tips to help prevent Lyme disease this summer.

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