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The New Flu Shot

2 Oct

This year, Boston Children’s Hospital is releasing a new quadrivalent flu vaccine. This new vaccine is supposed to cover all strains of the notorious flu virus.

The flu virus is split into four known strains, two types of an A strain and two types of a B strain; any type of strain can circulate at any given time. Current trivalent flu vaccines are designed to only protect against three types of the virus and are currently only about sixty percent effective, meaning recipients of the vaccine are still vulnerable. Because circulation of the flu virus is constant and global, predicting which strain will be most prevalent during flu season is near impossible. The quadrivalent vaccine reduces the chance of encountering a strain with which the recipient’s body is unfamiliar, but as helpful as this vaccine is, it, by no means, is the absolute solution to preventing the flu.

The release of the quadrivalent vaccine this season will be with watchful eyes as scientists will be monitoring the impact and effectiveness of the new treatment. While the quadrivalent vaccine may seem like the better option in terms of flu shots, the limited number of vaccines will make it impossible for everyone to obtain one. Doctors suggest people focus on receiving any vaccine as soon as possible instead of waiting specifically for the quadrivalent formula.

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The Heat Continues

8 Jul

Boston is experiencing it’s second heat wave of the year, reporting temperatures as high as the mid to high nineties. Although this is only the second heat wave of the year, it has the potential to be a long one. If temperatures on Monday through Wednesday break ninety degrees, the city will experience an 8 day heat wave, which is rare. Temperatures, although high, are not record breaking. Even without record breaking temperatures, the combined heat and humidity could make spending a day outside almost miserable. Over the weekend, a heat advisory was issued, urging citizens to stay hydrated and in a cool place. Many people spent time at the beach though, enjoying the sun and water. A potential break from the heat comes in the form of rain and thunderstorms that are projected to roll throughout the city for the next week.

Try some of these tips on staying cool the next time you feel a little too hot:

Wear loose and light fabrics to help increase airflow and reflect sunlight. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of liquids, particularly water. Don’t spend too much time in the sun, especially without wearing sunscreen. Enjoy the air conditioning because it can help reduce the effects of too much heat. If you’re headed out, try wearing a hat or heading for your local pool to escape the heat.

6 Worst Things To Eat

22 May

By Dr. Mike Roussell

Here are 6 foods a nuturitionist would never eat, and you should not either.

Rice Cakes,they can have a glycemic index rating as high as 91 (pure glucose has a rating of 100), making it the kind of carbohydrate that will send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride. This is bad for weight loss and for your health.

Fat-free salad dressings are a perfect example of good food gone bad. Salad dressing is an irrational fear of dietary fats has forced food companies to mess around with this perfect blend. The resulting fat-free salad dressings have introduced sugar and high fructose corn syrup, un-pronounceable emulsifying agents, and other food science secrets used to make the unnatural seem natural.
 
The risk/benefit ratio of eating fish (the benefits of omega-3 fats vs. the risk of mercury) typically falls in favor of the omega-3 fats and their incredible health effects. Shark is one of the exceptions. Despite having an omega-3 fat content similar to tuna, shark contains almost three times the amount of mercury. Tilefish is another high mercury/low omega-3 fish that should be avoided.

 
Unfortunately this rules out a majority of the carbohydrates found on supermarket shelves. Refined and re-fortified grains are grain-based foods like certain breakfast cereals, pastas, and rice products that have been refined such that the naturally occurring fiber, vitamins, and minerals have been removed. Companies then replace the fiber and synthetic versions of the vitamins and minerals that were initially removed.
 
Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
 
If you stop eating only one thing on this list, it should be sugar-sweetened beverages. The empty calories help pad your waistline without offering any sense of satiety or fullness. Plus, simple sugars do an excellent job of lowering your good cholesterol and increasing your triglyceride levels (two risk factors for heart disease). Drinking sugary beverages also promotes disturbances in your body’s inflammatory balance, making it harder to recover from exercise and increasing your risk of numerous chronic diseases.
 
Another hyper-refined carbohydrate, grits are the small leftover pieces from corn processing. Nutritionally speaking, grits lack significant amounts of vitamins or minerals. They contain a minute amount of fiber and no essential fats. Their flavor is lacking and thus butter or heavy cream is used to make them palatable, bringing together the blood-vessel-destroying, unholy marriage of simple carbohydrates and saturated fat.
 
 

 

 

What are the riskiest meats?

24 Apr
By Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff

After examining more than 33,000 cases of foodborne illness connected to beef, pork, and poultry, a nutrition activist group concluded that chicken and ground beef are the most likely to make you really sick, while chicken nuggets, ham, and sausage pose the lowest risk of foodborne illness.

All meat should be fully cooked until juices run clear. And any meat that isn’t eaten right away should be kept in a warm oven or put immediately into the refrigerator so bacteria won’t have a chance to multiply.

Also, don’t use the same plate for raw meat and cooked foods—a particular problem during grilling season—and use separate cutting boards to cut raw meat products and vegetables. Washing hands with soap and water after handling any raw beef, poultry, or pork is also a must.

5 Ways to deal with Spring Allergies

17 Apr
By Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff
 Pollen counts have been rising in Massachusetts, leaving many wheezing, sneezing, and dealing with itchy eyes.Recent research and treatments offer new or surprising approaches to get some relief for the spring allergies.

1. Using allergy drops under the tongue. These could eventually replace allergy shots to desensitize people to grass or tree allergies, since they were found in a recent review study to improve symptoms more than standard allergy treatments. The treatment has been widely used in Europe, but not here since it’s not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. “We don’t offer it, but some allergists may be using it off-label in community practices,” said Dr. Karen Hsu Blatman, an allergist and immunologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

If the FDA approves the treatment, Blatman said it would be most helpful for shot-adverse kids with one particular allergy to, say, fruit tree pollen or ragweed. “I’m not sure how well it works in those with multiple allergies.”

2. Allergy-fighting foods. Research suggests that certain foods rich in antioxidants or anti-inflammatory nutrients can lower your chances of getting allergies, according to holistic pharmacist Sherry Torkos, in a recent post by Time magazine. These include green tea and red foods such as apples, red onions, grapes, and raspberries, which contain antioxidants and natural antihistamines. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, which have high amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, can also help to dampen an overactive immune system.

3. Exercise. Physical activity could relieve some allergy symptoms by helping to maintain a properly functioning immune system—not in hyperactive mode. An intense workout can also help unblock nasal passages, at least temporarily. One caveat: Don’t exercise outdoors, especially when pollen counts are high, since that can make allergies worse.

4. Acupuncture. The tiny-needle-under-the-skin technique may help alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies, according to a February study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Twelve treatments over eight weeks that stimulated specific pressure points worked better than a sham needle treatment to relieve symptoms, but the German researchers emphasized that the reduction in symptoms was modest.

5. Dripless nasal sprays. Prescription steroid nasal sprays—which seasonal allergy sufferers take daily starting a month or two before allergy season—have gotten easier to use with versions that deliver a less drippy mist instead of a liquid, according to Blatman. Several are now available as generics, including triamcinolone (Nasacort) and fluticasone propionate (Flonase).

Temporary tattoos warned against by FDA

27 Mar

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against a dangerous practice that many college kids engage in while on vacation. No, not binge drinking or using tanning oil instead of sunscreen: getting a temporary tattoo.

“Just because a tattoo is temporary it doesn’t mean that it is risk free,” said Dr. Linda Katz, director of the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors. Some consumers report reactions that may be severe and long outlast the temporary tattoos themselves as the photo below illustrates.

 According to the FDA , it has received reports of problems associated with the tattoos such as redness, blisters, raised red weeping lesions, loss of pigmentation, increased sensitivity to sunlight, and, in rare cases, permanent scarring.

The state Department of Public Health regulates tattoo parlors that provide permanent tattoos, but kiosks offering temporary ones.

By Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff

 

Mediterranean diet shown to reduce heart disease, landmark study finds

25 Feb

Consumers have, for years, been urged to eat a Mediterranean diet, which eschews red meats and processed food in favor of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil, and wine, but the advice lacked a rigorous study to prove it prevented heart disease. Now there is one.

A Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or mixed nuts can significantly reduce heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart problems, according to a study that is the first to demonstrate its benefits in a type of clinical trial considered the most reliable.

Spanish researchers tracked thousands of participants over roughly five years and found a 30 percent reduction in the rate of heart disease, primarily strokes, among the Mediterranean diet eaters compared with those who consumed more traditional low-fat fare. That diet included more starch and grains, but fewer nuts and oils.

Earlier studies analyzed health outcomes based on participants’ recall of meals and concluded there likely were benefits from a Mediterranean diet. Health and nutrition specialists who reviewed the latest study, published online Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine, said its size, controlled structure, and focus on patients who were already at risk of heart disease offered powerful and much-needed evidence of a protective heart effect from a Mediterranean diet.