Radish a day, keeps the allergies away…

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Photo Credit: Flickr

Recently a lady I work with told me something she heard about radishes.  She said that if you ate one whole, raw radish every day during allergy season, it can help relieve allergy symptoms and prevent the dreaded sinus infections.  I decided that it was worth looking in to.

Radishes!!!! What a little work horse these beautiful red vegetables are!  They have all sorts of health benefits I wanted to share with you.  Radishes are in the same family as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower – the Brassicaceae family.  All of the vegetables in this family contain similar nutrients, therefore, giving you similar health benefits!  I love radishes because they are a) beautiful b) so easy to grow and c) so yummy!

Here are some health benefits that radishes can provide to you:

  1. Natural anti-cancer agent. It turns out that radishes are a powerful, yet natural, anti-cancer agent.  It has been suggested that the active agent in them, indole-3 carbinole, is an anti-tumor agent – it prevents carcinogenesis and increases production of Tumor Necrosis Factor.    Find out more here.
  2. Natural anti-infective.  A substance found in radishes, called raphanin, has been proven as a very effective anti-infective.  Ancient Egyptians used radishes to treat infections.  Raphanin is found in high concentration in the radish seeds, but due to the toxic nature of the seeds, you should not ingest them.  Eating the radishes themselves can have the desired effect.
  3. Decreases blood glucose levels.  It has been predicted that the United States will be the country with the largest number of diabetic patients by the year 2025 (with India and China in close second). Many synthetic drugs are effective, but they have many undesirable side effects.  For this reason many vegetables being researched for treatment of various diseases.  Wouldn’t it be great if a simple vegetable could  help treat and even prevent this disease?  Radishes are a natural way to help keep blood glucoses levels at a normal range.  They do this by increasing utilization of glucose in the body’s peripheral cells.  Scientists recommend ingesting beets 2 hours before a meal in juice form to get optimal results.

 

Radishes have some great health benefits.  Don’t miss out on them!

 

 

 

 

You have a cold? Don’t panic!

It has happened to all of us.  First your inner ears starts to feel “itchy”.  You start swallowing a lot.  Then your throat is scratchy.  You may sneeze a few times.  PANIC! You know you are getting ready to come down with a cold.

A cold may seem like a small annoyance to some people, but for many, it could be a huge problem. Americans spend billions of dollars in over the counter cold/flu treatments annually.  What starts out as a cold can many times turn into an expensive complication.  A cold can be the beginning of sinus infections, ear infections, conjunctivitis, and pneumonia (to name a few).

What is the best way to get rid of a cold?  First, do everything in your power to prevent getting one in the first place!  Not getting enough rest, stress, poor diet and sedentary lifestyle can all create a situation that leads to decreased immunity, making you more susceptible to colds.  However, sometimes no matter what we do, we can’t avoid it.

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/betonowylotus/

Here are some at home remedies that can help stop a cold in it’s tracks:

  • Garlic.  Garlic is known to kill several different types of bacteria and viruses.  It also is a great immunity booster.  Michael Janson MD, the president of the American Preventative Medicine Association, recommends adding garlic to your diet and also taking a “non-deodorized” garlic supplement twice a day.
  • Easy to digest foods. The school of thought behind this is eating easy to digest foods can help you body spend more energy fighting off the cold virus instead of spending energy on digesting your foods.  Digestion takes an incredible amount of energy! Your body needs to be using that energy to get well.  Some easy to digest foods include broth based soups, fruit and vegetable juices, water and tea.  Stay away from carbohydrates and proteins as much as possible, as they are complex and require a lot of energy to properly digest.
  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body.  Adding more Vitamin C rich foods (citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, greens and peppers) to your diet is a great way to increase your Vitamin C intake.
  • Zinc. Zinc has been called the “super immunity mineral” and many Americans are deficient.  The Journal of the American College of Nutrition reported that zinc intake for Americans has declined leading to widespread immunity problems.  Whole grains, nuts, legumes, beans and nut butters are great vegetarian sources of zinc.  Throat lozenges that contain zinc have also become very popular.
  • Positive attitude and balanced life. If you live a sress-free and balanced life you are much less likely to come down with illnesses.  The New England Journal of Medicine published evidence that people are more likely to get colds when a person is psychologically stressed and overworked.

In a nutshell, if you feel like you are getting a cold, make a big pot of brothy soup with plenty of garlic in it, eat plenty of oranges for a snack and get some rest.  You will feel back to you old self in no time!

Eauclaire, S. (1996). Preventing colds and flu: natural remedies that boost your immunity. Vegetarian Times, (232). 26.

Autoimmune diseases: What & Why?

Autoimmune Chart

Photo Credit: Wellpath Clinic

What are Autoimmune Diseases?

Autoimmune diseases are conditions that occur when the body’s immune system launches an immune response to it’s own cells and tissues.  This attack can happen against tissues all over the body or can be limited to a specific organ. This attack can happen against tisues all over the body (Rheumatoid Arthritis) or in one specific organ (Type 1 Diabetes).

Some sources I have found state that there are over 80 Autoimmune Diseases that have been identified and this number is continuing to grow.  You can find an excellent list of many of these diseases at the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association’s website.  The National Institutes of Health has estimated that 23.5 million Americans have some type of Autoimmune Disease. Autoimmune diseases are the fifth leading cause of death in women under the age of 64 and in children.  Aren’t those numbers astounding?  What can we do about it?

Why do Autoimmune Diseases happen?

In order to prevent Autoimmune Diseases (AD) from occurring, we must find out what causes them in the first place.  This is where there is a snag.  No one really knows what causes ADs. There are many theories out there.  We know that in order for a person to have an AD they must be genetically susceptible to getting it in the first place.  AD’s run in families.  Genetics are not the definitive factor involved.  Just because you have a gene that makes you susceptible to an AD does not mean you will have one.  This has been proven by twin studies in which one twin has an AD and the other one does not.

So what else come in to play?  Scientists believe that there must also be an environmental trigger.  These triggers are very broad – exposure to viruses (EBV, etc.) chemicals, diet, hormones, drugs, and behavior.

One Autoimmune Disease that we are all familiar with is Type 1 Diabetes.  This disease occurs because of an immune response to the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.  There are many studies out there but there have been no definitive triggers found.  One study in the UK has linked this disease to cigarette smoke exposure.  A study in the US has linked it to exposure to baby formula and cow’s milk.  The fact is that different studies have shown different possibilities and none of them have proven any possibilities.

How to get involved?

According to Dr. Frederick Miller, the Deputy Chief of the Environmental Autoimmunity  Group, a national data registry tool is needed.  This would provide researchers documented data to analyze to make connections between these diseases and their epidemiological data.

If you or anyone in your family is affected by Autoimmune Diseases you should consider participating in research studies.  There are a list of current research studies taking place here.

Advocacy and promotion of these disease are also important.  The more the public knows about them, the more data can be gathered.

I am hopeful that more treatments and prevention strategies will be developed in the future.  Thanks for reading!

Mallampalli, M. P., Davies, E., Wood, D., Robertson, H., Polato, F., & Carter, C. L. (2013). Role of Environment and Sex Differences in the Development of Autoimmune Diseases: A Roundtable Meeting Report. Journal Of Women’s Health (15409996), 22(7), 578-586. doi:10.1089/jwh.2013.4462

Schmidt, C. (n.d). Environmental Factors in Autoimmune Disease. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(6), A249-A253.

 

Why are school nurses important?

I am a school nurse.  I have been working at my current school for almost five years.  I could go on and on about the importance of school nursing. School nurses play an integral role in public health.  School nurses promote health and safety for students, therefore, ensure academic success for all.  School nurses are in a perfect position to detect health issues early for children that are most vulnerable. School nurses contribute to the future health and success of our nation by taking care of our children.  Need I say more?

According to the National Association of School Nurses, 52 million of the nation’s children attend school every day.  School nurses have early access to all of these children.  This provides us (school nurses) many opportunities to develop healthy lifestyles at an early age, pre-screen for disease, perform vaccinations, and provide acute care when needed.  By doing these things school nurses are able to remove barriers to academic success.

School nurses provide care to children with chronic health conditions while they are in their learning environment.  Approximately 18% of children and adolescents have been diagnosed with a chronic health condition, such as asthma, food allergies, diabetes, and other disabilities.  If a student with any of these conditions does not have proper access to health care, it can make it difficult for them to acquire a satisfactory education.

Every day I wake up, drop my daughter off at daycare, and start my day at school.  I administer morning medications to students who need them.  I assess students who are ill and treat them. I develop educational programs to help them deal with chronic illnesses and prevention. I am in constant contact with their parents while they are under my care. All the while I am constantly checking for their well being.  Are they eating healthy foods in the cafeteria?  Are they able to learn today? Are they safe? Are they happy?

A healthy child can focus on their school work.  A healthy child is involved in extra-curricular activities. A healthy child goes on to bigger and better things.  They have a bright future ahead of them and can achieve unimaginable things.  I had a small role in getting them there.  What did you do today?

 

 

 

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Photo credit: Steve Depolo

10 Things to Know Before Nursing School

 

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Photo credit: Walt Stoneburner

1. It is really hard.

I am not going to lie.  Nursing school is the hardest thing I have done in my life.  It tests you in ways that you can not prepare for.  I began nursing school after already earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biomedical Science.  I had been out of school for several years.  I was not working in my chosen field, however.  I worked in retail.  I decided I needed to make a huge change and that nursing school was the way to do it.  Nothing prepared me for what happened after that.

I have never written so many papers and read so much material in my life.  The homework assignments and studying for exams was a non-stop job.  The college I attended recommended spending 10 hours of study/preparation time per 3 credit hours of classes you were taking.  At 12 credit hours, that was a whopping 40 hours per week just in study/prep time!  That did not include time spent in class.  Somehow you have to squeeze that in to sleep time, eat time, and some work time (if you have to).  Continue reading