September 2009

September is Healthy Aging Month

As I rapidly approach the age of thirty (so I have a few more years—each one goes by faster than the previous one!), I get more concerned about my health. Should I drink more water? Should I have kept playing softball? Should I lose sleep over my freckles? We can’t do much about the decisions we’ve already made; all we can do is bid them all a fond (or not-so-fond) adieu, and stop making them if we’ve continued to do so.

Mental Illness Awareness Week

The first week of October is Mental Illness Awareness Week. It was established in 1990 to highlight the work that the National Alliance on Mental Illness has done to raise awareness about mental illnesses, to celebrate the successes in the movement, and to provide public education about mental illness across the country.

The NAMI uses the week-long campaign to hold awareness events at the local, state and national levels. Outreach, educational programs and advocacy events are normally conducted, and a focus on recovery is also a main feature. Real recovery, says the NAMI, is completely possible, but it requires lots of understanding, community action, and teamwork.

Your Mom Used Maternity Care

Oh, snap.

When a senator uses a “your mom” line, you know she means business. At the Senate Finance Committee debate on maternity care in health reform last Friday, Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow made the passionate argument that it should be mandatory for insurance providers to give basic maternity care coverage.

This is not a radical concept; pregnancy is the leading cause of death for young women, and proper maternity care can help curtail those statistics. Of course, some might argue—men in particular—that they’re not going to get pregnant, so why have the “unnecessary” coverage added to your premium?

That’s what Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl (doesn’t that look like a pop star name to you?) said on Friday. “I don’t need maternity care,” he said, “so requiring that on my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.”

Adult Immunizations Week

As a mom, I’ve been pretty proud of my kid’s shot records. Though she was born in California and we live in Missouri, I’ve kept a record of every single one—including flu shots, synagis shots against RSV, etc.—all in the same little fold-out shot record.

This was always something I promised to do because I have no idea when I received shots when or where. My mom had three kids to care for, not one—and we had a handful of those accordion-like cards around our house, some half-filled, some with a single shot on them…and some missing.

Throw Out Your Television

We all know that sitting in front of the TV all day isn’t so great for us. There’s nothing wrong with catching the occasional episode of your favorite show or family movie night, but most people watch a ton of television.

According to the TV Turnoff Network, while average kids spend about 900 hours in school every year, they spend 1,500 watching TV. 66% of families eat dinner while they watch TV, and 70% of daycares use TVs in an average day. That’s a lot of passive activity.

6 Reasons to Take Care of the Skin You're In

It literally pains me every time my younger sister and mother talk about “going tanning.” No matter how many studies, facts, figures, and other gruesome details I divulge (either outright, or through menacing articles taped on the fridge and ominous messages left on voicemail). Of course, they think that as a redhead, I avoid the sun at all costs simply because I don’t want to look like Rock Lobster.

I’ve been gradually trying to increase the health of my family’s skin over the last few years. We’ve switched to natural, organic, all-the-bells-and-whistles soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, deodorant, and anything else we lather up in. We’ve also taken to using sunscreen anytime we know we’ll be outside for a while—something I have no recollection of as a child!

Yoga Zone: The Perfect DVD for Yoga Neophytes

Unlike my colleague who has masterfully succeeded in the art of being anti-meditation and perhaps anti-zen, I am caught somewhere between drinking Pabst Blue Ribbons on alternate weekends and trying out new-fangled health drinks and old-school aerobics videos. Today, and not for the first time, I entered the world of Yoga Zone with Alan Finger, which is the perfect tape for a yoga beginner looking for some relaxation as well as some strength and conditioning. I first purchased the video series in the late 90's and have since upgraded to the DVD versions which are available at Amazon here.

How to Lower Your Blood Pressure

If you’re like many Americans, you may be looking for a good way to lower your blood pressure. Maybe you’re overweight and your heart is working a little harder, literally pumping up the volume. Perhaps you’re just stressed out or born high-strung.

High blood pressure runs in my family, and my mother, her mother, and I all have always had high resting pulses—even as kids. Every time I go to the doctor, to give blood, or anything I’m always asked if I’m nervous because my pulse is a little high. Nope, I reply, I’m just always that way, me and my mousy heart.

If you do have high blood pressure, you know that there are medications out there to control it—many of which suck, restrict you from other meds, or have crappy side effects. As with everything else, I say if there’s a natural way to fix it, try that—but always under the supervision of a doctor.

Natural Remedies for Yeast Infections

As a woman, I hate "baking bread". Nope, I'm not talking about the actual art of putting some bread into the oven, but the reality of yeast infections, which rank highly among women as the annoyance making them the most uncomfortable throughout the day. Because yeast infections are not sick-day worthy in the eyes of men, it means sitting through your work-day at the office, feeling irritable and squirming uncomfortably in your chair. Frankly, it's just another one of those things that makes being a woman not so great.

National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that 1 in 6 men will be affected by prostate cancer in his lifetime? 30,000 men die every year from the disease, the most common non-skin cancer in America. 200,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, and most older men are believed to have traces of it within them.

 But there is a lot that can be done to prevent getting prostate cancer. Most doctors believe that it’s caused by a high-fat diet—or, at least, that such a diet contributes greatly to the disease. It’s very prevalent in countries where meat and dairy are staple foods, rather than in countries known to eat mostly fresh vegetables and fruits.

In order to reduce your risk of prostate cancer as much as possible, you can do a number of things:

Vibrant Versatile Vinegar

Are grandmothers ever wrong? Never. Mine used to tell me that nothing was better for washing windows than white vinegar and newspaper. And that rinsing my hair with a half a cup of vinegar and a cup of cold water after a shower would make my hair glow like the sun. Did I listen? No. Was she right? Yes, naturally.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that the simplest and most inexpensive items on the shelf are in fact, the most efficient. We buy in to the marketing of companies selling expensive cleaners, conditioners, cosmetics, and medicine; when the one product that we have had all along, does not only a comprable job, it does a better job.

Vinegar is one such product.

The Great American Condom Campaign

Last Christmas, my awesome little sister handed out cards with condoms featuring warming lube on them inside. She wrote the same thing in each one: “Have a warm, safe holiday.”

Now, I’m married and on my own birth control, so I had no real use for her ingenious, delightful little gift. Sure, I could have blown them up and hung them on the Christmas tree, but that might have posed as a fire hazard. Instead, I gave them to a friend who would get good use out of them—and isn’t that what we should all do with our extra condoms? A friend in need—and that includes in need for a bit of protection—is a friend, indeed.

Natural Ways to Combat Depression

Let’s get one thing straight: if you are severely depressed, you need to see a doctor. Don’t take any chances on yourself or your loved ones; if you feel like you’re in danger, that you could hurt yourself or others, or if you are having trouble functioning on a daily basis, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. No matter what bats**t-crazy Tom Cruise has to say on the subject, depression is a real illness and should be taken seriously as such.

Negative Ions and How They Help You

My research into the health benefits of negative ions was sparked by an ad selling clothing and bedding charged with them. It seemed an obvious hoax to sell another useless product promising magical benefits at a high cost. My curiousity was further piqued while watching a health show in which the host was treated to a detoxing footbath at a spa in San Francisco. The bath was simply a tub of water and a negative ion generator. The generator had a metal needle which gave off a small electrical charge and was placed in the water along with the woman's feet. Within thirty minutes, the clear water had turned to a black, foaming tub of pond scum.

September is Pleasure Your Mate Month

When it comes to health and well-being, we’re often told to wash our hands, to eat our vegetables, to move our meat every once and a while to work off that chocolate shake. But aside from being scared away from STDs and pregnancy, told to use condoms (or to practice abstinence), and recently to get vaccinated against HPV, relationship and sexual health really isn’t focused on that much—until, of course, you’re having problems and need to attend couples’ therapy.

Wouldn’t it be cool if sometime in between learning how to share crayons and dissecting cats we were taught something as useful as how to have a healthy, happy relationship? It might be taken for granted that kids and teens should learn this at home, but let’s face it—many of them simply don’t have good relationships—or even any relationships—to witness at home.