Healthy Choices

News and inspiration for healthy living in Northern California

June 28, 2013
More pomegranate kernals recalled in Hepatitis A virus outbreak
June 28, 2013
What is your sun safety IQ?

The Fourth of July is next Thursday, and many of you are looking forward to the mid-week break and some outdoor play during the holiday.

Whether you're headed for the trails, the beach, state parks or merely hanging out around the grill in the backyard, be aware of how much sunlight you soak in.

Surely, the vitamin D supplied by the sun is crucial for your good health. But protection against too much sun is a must due to skin cancer risks.

Take this quick quiz from the American Cancer Society to find your "sun safety IQ."

And feel free to comment and let us know how you plan to celebrate the holiday.

June 27, 2013
Should red meat be on your Fourth of July menu?

Should red meat be part of your July 4 menu? Naturally, that's up to you. This is America we are celebrating, after all.

But here are some new findings from research on the correlation between red meat and Type 2 diabetes -- all the way from the National University of Singapore.

There's no hard and fast evidence that eating red meat leads directly to Type 2 diabetes. But it looks like the more you eat, the higher your risk of developing diabetes down the road.

An Pan, the lead author of the study, told Reuters in an email: "I think the difference is enough to encourage people at least not to increase red meat consumption, and then think about ways to reduce the consumption."

Type II diabetes occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or ignores the insulin it needs to turn food into energy.

About 26 million Americans have diabetes -- and between 90 and 95 percent of those have Type 2 and need to keep a close eye on what they eat.

So you might want to keep your feast down to one burger, instead going for seconds.

June 26, 2013
What do schools have to do with the health of a community?

Today, a group of dedicated and talented local students staged a play called "Willful" smack dab in the middle of the grand, old state Capitol building. The topic was willful defiance, an ill-defined charge that school administrators can levy at trouble-making kids they want to suspend.

At the invitation of Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, the kids, in conjunction with the Cornerstone Theater Company, acted out a scenario in which a school administrator was about to charge a kid with willful defiance.

But rather than go through with it, the administrator had a change of heart and instead started a dialogue with the student about what was going on in his personal life.

Education, and the access to it, is one of the so-called social determinants of healthy communities. What exactly does that mean?

Carl Pinkson, of the Black Parallel School Board, explains how it all boils down to health. Studies show that when a student gets kicked out of school, he may hit the streets, become involved in gangs or other illegal activity, end up in prison or -- worse -- with a shortened life span.

"Our philosophy is there is a direct connection between the health of the community and the access to education," Pinkson said. "There's something in the issue of violence and young people dying a violent death on the streets that connects health to good education."

That's one reason why there's a burgeoning effort to get school boards across California to rethink punishments like suspending students for "willfull defiance" or "zero tolerance" -- ultimately to enhance the health of the community.

June 26, 2013
Successful rehab includes support from the community

Each day, an average of 8,120 people age 12 and above try drugs for the first time. An estimated 12,800 try alcohol, according to the newly published non-fiction book titled "Clean," by David Sheff.

Sheff writes that addiction is a preventable, treatable disease, not a moral failing. As with other illnesses, the approaches most likely to work are based on science.

That's not to say that community and family support is any less important. In Berkeley, the Indian burrito restaurant called Urbann Turbann makes it a point to hire recovering addicts once they've finished their treatment programs.

Here's a short video on community support I shot while at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism's Multimedia Institute: It's called "A Second Chance." Feel free to share.

June 24, 2013
Lack of sleep can cause loss of memory, daytime alertness.

Among other things, not getting enough sleep may play a role in making you more forgetful. The website makes that point in this video titled "How to Understand The Causes of Memory Loss."

The takeaway message? Loss of as little as 1.5 hours of sleep a night may reduce daytime alertness by as much as 32 percent.

June 4, 2013
CPR: Use the beat of the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive" to save a life

And you thought disco was just a distant, fading memory.... Not so, according to the American Heart Association.

Just two simple steps and the beat of Disco-era's classic Bee Gee's song "Stayin' Alive" may be all it takes to save the life of someone who collapses of heart failure, the heart experts say.

Step 1 is to call 911.

Step 2 is to place your two hands in the middle of the chest (squarely between the nipples), one on top of the other and start pumping heavy and hard. Start pushing on the chest with all your strength at a rate of 100 beats per minute -- the exact beat of the the Bee Gee's hit tune "Stayin' Alive."

CPR experts say blowing into the victim's airway with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is no longer needed.

But when it comes to pushing on the chest, just remember push hard and often. CPR experts said do not stop compressions even if you sense the victim's ribs are breaking. They can heal easily after your victim regains a heart beat. The main concern is getting the heart to resume beating.

Check out this brief video from the American Heart Association for a demonstration.

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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Phone: (916) 321-1270
On Twitter: @cynthiahcraft.

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