Healthy Choices

News and inspiration for healthy living in Northern California

September 6, 2013
Free food literacy fair at Midtown Farmers Market on Saturday

Taste food samples, shop for produce, view an art show, meet local chefs and take advantage of free health screenings Saturday at the free food literacy fair at the Midtown Farmers Market.
Assemblyman Roger Dickinson will be on hand to welcome attendees to the fair, held at the farmers market at 2020 J Street. A resolution by Dickinson has designated September "Food Literacy Awareness" month in California.
A highlight of the event will be the announcement of which of five vegetables won Capitol Heights Academy's "Veggie of the Year" award. Academy students from kindergarten through fifth grade taste-tested and judged sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beets, avocados and kale in a competition this week. Top chefs from the Sacramento region helped present the vegetables, with the California Food Literacy Center educating the students about fresh produce.
The fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with announcements beginning at 10:30 a.m. Included will be a colorful "March of the Veggies," a parade of delectable costumes.

September 3, 2013
Free give-away of emergency kits in Natomas on Saturday

This Saturday, free emergency home kits will be available for the first 400 households who go to pick them up at the Celebrate Natomas Community Festival.

The its, given out by Hands On Sacramento and the Allstate Foundation, will include handy items such as flashlights, hand-crank radios, water bottles and backpacks.

The kits will be available on a first-come, first served basis on Saturday, Sept. 7, at the festival, which begins at noon and ends at 5 p.m.

The festival at South Natomas Community Park, 2921 Truxel Road, will feature games, fun events and live entertainment as well as the distribution of the kits.

August 30, 2013
To avoid Type 2 diabetes, choose whole fruit over fruit juice

Thumbnail image for Gala_Apple.jpgApples. Grapes. Blueberries.

Those three fruits are your best bets if you want to avoid Type 2 diabetes, Harvard researchers said this week.

But skip the fruit juice, with its high concentration of sugars.

The news from Harvard says eating whole fruits can lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Researchers examined three different long-running studies of the habits of 187,000 people -- 12,198 of whom were stricken with Type 2 diabetes.

Those who ate at least two servings a week of whole fruits -- especially those apples, grapes and blueberries -- reduced their risk for diabetes by as much as 23 percent compared to those who ate less than one serving a month.

Fruit juice didn't score as well. Downing one or more juice drinks a day actually increased the risk of getting diabetes by as much as 21 percent.

Now that's a glass half-empty.

August 29, 2013
Our schools are getting healthier, CDC report says

School districts in California and nationwide are getting better at providing healthy environments for students, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.

A survey sizing up state and district-level policies revealed, for instance, that the percentage of districts banning all tobacco use during any school-related activity increased from 46.7 percent in 2000 to 67.5 percent in 2012.

Going to the heart of the obesity epidemic, 93.6 percent of districts said elementary schools must teach physical education in 2012. That's up from 82.6 percent in the year 2000.

Fewer school districts allowed soft drink companies to advertise on school grounds -- 33.5 percent in 2012 compared to 46.6 percent in 2006.

And the percentage of districts that required schools to ban junk food from vending machines jumped from 29.8 percent in 2006 to 43.4 percent last year.

The CDC will drill down deeper next year, when surveys will be taken in individual schools and even on the classroom level. The 2014 results will be released in 2015.

August 28, 2013
New York City allows doctors to prescribe fruits, veggies

An apple a day keeps the doctor away -- or, busy perhaps, in the case of a New York City program that allows physicians to prescribe fruits and vegetables to their patients.

Called the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, or FVRx, the project promises to be useful in the battle against obesity.

A national nonprofit called Wholesome Wave is behind the project. Its aim is to make locally grown produce available to folks of all income levels.

Patients enrolled in the program will receive a monthly script of $1 per day for each member of the family. So, a family of four would get $28 a week to spend at one of New York's 138 farmers markets.

That's one way to get your apple a day.

August 20, 2013
Take this free quiz on living a long, healthy life

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services comes this quiz you can take to gauge your familiarity with how to live a long, healthy life.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study indicates that your health in your senior years depends on who you are, what your habits are and where you live.

The CDC's Man-Huei Chang looked at national health data on the number of years after age 65 that people had good health:

"Across all of the states, healthy life expectancy was about 14 years, on the average."

Mississippians averaged the fewest healthy years after they turned 65, and Hawaiians averaged the most. State by state, men consistently averaged fewer years than women. Blacks fairly consistently had fewer healthy years than whites.

Healthy living habits, such as not smoking, reduce the odds that people die early.

August 9, 2013
Free eye clinic and health fair Saturday in Sacramento

A free clinic Saturday for uninsured people in Sacramento offers no-cost eye examinations and, if needed, free prescription eyeglasses.

For walk-in clients, the clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to noon. Appointments will be made until 4 p.m.

The event is a collaboration among VSP, which will provide its vision care mobile clinic, and public officials.

Sacramento Assemblyman Richard Pan and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Sacramento City Council member Bonnie Pannell will be on hand to host the health fair and answer questions from the public.

The Community Health and Wellness Fair, held at the Florin Arts & Business Complex, 2251 Florin Road, will also feature free medical screenings, back-to-school backpacks and cooking demonstrations by local high school students.

August 9, 2013
Singing registered nurse lifts spirits and health outcomes

Jared Axen, 26, is slighty shy, it's been reported. But you wouldn't know it from the registered nurse's performance here. Watch this video from the Los Angeles Times for a look at real patient-centered health care:

August 8, 2013
Cups of hot chocolate can improve memory in seniors

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Whether in summer or winter, a couple of cups of hot chocolate daily may be just what seniors need to boost their memory.

A study of 60 seniors with an average age of 73 was just published in the journal Neurology.

To measure the power of flavanol-rich hot chocolate on the brain, all were asked to drink two cups of hot chocolate daily for a month.

Eighteen of the seniors showed impaired blood flow to the brain at the beginning of the study. By the end of the month, however, they had an 8.3 percent improvement to the working areas of the brain. Plus, they scored better on memory tests.

In the same journal, another study following over 30,000 Swedish men found that high chocolate consumption lowered the risk of stroke.

So, go ahead, indulge in some chocolate today.

August 7, 2013
September 11 attacks drove 1 million former smokers to light up

cig.jpeg Researchers curious about former smokers' ability to stay off cigarettes in times of severe stress took a look at smoking patterns after the September 11 terror attacks.

Many smokers who'd quit -- estimated at about 1 million -- picked up the pack again after the attack on the World Trade Center.

Results of this study revealed a hidden health cost stemming from the stress of a horrific terror attack, researchers said.

The Weill Cornell Medical College researchers published their work in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy.

The same pattern was not found after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

August 5, 2013
Working up a sweat may reduce your stroke risk

A study in the journal Stroke says people who are inactive -- exercising less than once a week -- are 20 percent more likely to have a stroke.

That's compared to people who exercise at least four times a week.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

The National Institutes of Health describe a stroke as occurring when blood vessels that supply the brain become ruptured or blocked. As a result, brain cells die from lack of oxygen and other nutrients.

The five-year study looked at 27,000 black and white participants, men and women, from across the nation. They had no prior history of stroke, and were at least 45 years old.

The bottom line: Researchers concluded exercise reduces blood pressure, weight and diabetes -- all risk factors for strokes.

August 2, 2013
Breastfeeding rates rise to include 91 percent of CA moms

Breastfeeding is what nature intended. It's also the healthiest way to start off a baby's life.

The health benefits of breastfeeding are many and well-established. An added bonus: Bonding between mother and baby.

In California, we get it.

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "breastfeeding report card" says 91.6 percent of new moms in California breastfed their infants.That compares to 77 percent for the national average.

Only Idaho, with a reported 91.8 percent, beat California in the rankings. The worst ranking in the nation goes to Mississippi, with only 50.5 percent of new mothers breastfeeding their infants.

So much for the "Mississippi-fication" of California.

August 1, 2013
FDA alert: Acetaminophen's risk of rare but serious skin rashes

The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert to consumers on Thursday that acetaminophen can cause a rare but serious skin rash.

Acetaminophen, a fever and pain reliever that's one of the most widely used medicines in the U.S., is the main ingredient in the brand Tylenol.

Although rare, possible reactions to acetaminophen include three serious skin diseases. Symptoms can include rashes, blisters and, in the worst case, widespread damage to the surface of the skin.

Anyone taking acetaminophen who develops a rash or other skin reaction should cease taking the product and seek medical attention immediately, the FDA said.

Dr. Sharon Hertz, deputy director of FDA's Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia and Addiction, said, "It is extremely important that people recognize and react quickly to the initial symptoms of these rare but serious, side effects, which are potentially fatal."

FDA officials said they will recommend labeling changes to warn consumers of this new, known risk.

A new FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions page at the FDA website gives more information.

August 1, 2013
You ate the calories. Now, negate them: Here's how.

This has been some week in the world of healthy eating.

Consider: Monday was National Lasagna Day. Tuesday was National Cheesecake Day. Thursday was Raspberry Cream Pie Day. And Friday? National Ice Cream Sandwich Day.

I don't know about you, but I personally decided to pass on these indulgences. Too much work to take it off.

Shape magazine gives us some examples:


  • If you eat one cup of vanilla soft serve ice cream, that's 382 calories. To work it off, you'd have to go on a moderately difficult, 60-minute hike.

  • A half-rack of homemade BBQ ribs is 450 calories. To work it off: 85 minutes of kayaking.

  • Down two-and-a-half, 12 ounce beers and you're looking at 307 calories and 42 minutes of jogging.

  • Sip a whole glass of sangria, with 285 calories, and you'll need to play doubles tennis for 65 minutes.

  • Munch 14 tortilla chips with one-quarter cup of guacamole for 400 calories, and you're in for 35 minutes of full-court basketball.

That's not to say physical activity and outdoor play isn't fun. But it's good to realize you've got to spend the energy or else it, um, stores itself.

August 1, 2013
Health, wellness non-profits: Sutter Health offers sponsorships

Here's potentially good news for non-profits focusing on health and wellness in the greater Sacramento region:

Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region is inviting the non-profit organizations to apply for sponsorships -- otherwise defined as community relations investments.

The organizations must be located in Amador, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, Yolo or Yuba counties.

Applications must be submitted by Sept. 30. The application period provides funds for January through May 2014, or for year-long periods.

Those who are interested in applying for sponsorships should go here to watch an informational webinar.

July 31, 2013
Boomers: Why you need the life-saving hepatitis C virus test

hepCman.jpeg
Baby boomers -- those born from 1945 to 1965 -- listen up.

You may be surprised to hear that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend you be tested for the hepatitis C virus at least once.

The CDC's math says that boomers make up 75 percent of all those infected with the virus.

People with hepatitis C may have no symptoms, but is a so-called "silent disease."
It's a virus that inflames and scars the liver. If undiagnosed and untreated, these infections may lead to chronic liver disease, cirrhosis -- even death.

Read more about it in The Bee's 2012 article by Anita Creamer.

Photo: Former Sacramento gallery owner Spencer Baker, of Sacramento, was diagnosed with hepatitis C. Photo by Renee C. Byer.





About Healthy Choices

Cynthia CraftCynthia H. Craft began her reporting and editing career in Columbus, Ohio, after graduating from Ohio State University. She worked at a Dallas, Texas, newspaper as an editor, and then at the Los Angeles Times, as an editor and Capitol Bureau correspondent. After working as editor in chief at the California Journal, Craft went to Lima, Peru, for three years as a visiting professor of journalism at Peruana Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas. She was a fellow in 2012 at the National Library for Medicine in Washington, D.C. at the National Institute for Health. She's currently The Sacramento Bee's senior writer on health, a position made possible by a grant from The California Endowment.

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Email: ccraft@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1270
On Twitter: @cynthiahcraft.

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