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By SMH Webmaster on 1/18/2016 4:07 PM
Did you know that the average American eats at least 2,400 calories during the four to five hours of the Super Bowl? That makes it the second biggest day of gluttony after Thanksgiving.

Even more fun facts: Americans will scarf down roughly 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn and 3 million pounds of nuts, said the Snack Food Association. They’ll eat nearly 1 billion chicken wings on game day, according to the National Chicken Council. An estimated 48 million Americans will also order takeout, predicted the National Restaurant Association, while another 12 million people eat out during the big game.
By SMH Webmaster on 12/8/2015 3:27 PM
It’s easy to put off starting a healthy routine, especially around the holiday season. But for some, putting it off could result in weight gain, stress and a bigger hill to climb come January. Here are some tips to get a head start on your 2017 health goals. 

Visit your health practitioner
– Don’t wait until you are sick to see your health care practitioner this winter. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to schedule a yearly visit. Not only will your provider review your overall health status, but he or she can help you set realistic wellness goals and create a plan that works for you.  
By SMH Webmaster on 11/24/2015 8:44 AM
In a matter of days (or hours, really), we’ll be moving on from pumpkins to Christmas trees. Before you toss that pumpkin off your front porch, don’t miss out on the health benefits its seeds can offer – especially for men. 

Ninety-nine percent of the pumpkins marketed in the United States are used for Halloween jack-o-lanterns. While these varieties are usually too stringy to eat, the seeds can be very beneficial for men’s health. First, prostate health: Pumpkin seeds contain a phytonutrient called cucurbitacins that can prevent the body from converting testosterone into a much more potent form called dihydrotestosterone. By inhibiting or slowing down this pathway, it makes it difficult for the body to produce more prostate cells, and therefore more difficult for the prostate to keep enlarging. More is not better when it comes to the size of your prostate.
By SMH Webmaster on 11/10/2015 3:04 PM

Tis the season for the exploitation of pumpkins. If you shop at Trader Joe’s (or any grocery store for that matter), you have probably seen the following seasonal products – pumpkin tortilla chips, pumpkin granola, pumpkin stuffing, pumpkin cereal bars, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin cookies and the popular pumpkin bread in a box. Not even mentioning the pumpkin spice latte craze. Pumpkin flavored anything will usually result in a high-sugar, highly processed food item.

Pumpkin itself is very nutritious. In the fall and winter months, consuming pumpkins and other winter squash varieties can actually help prevent you from catching a respiratory viral infection.

By SMH Webmaster on 10/20/2015 3:44 PM
The dreaded cold and cough season is here. Before you rush to the medicine cabinet, did you know that cough and cold medications are among the top 20 substances leading to death in children younger than 5-years-old? And there is little to no evidence supporting the use of most over-the-counter cough remedies in children? While that might be surprising to you, you do have evidence-based options for natural ways to treat the littlest ones in your family. FYI, these recommendations can also be implemented in adults.

First off, it’s important to note that because viral infections are the causes of most colds, antibiotics are not the answer. However, theAmerican Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) lists the following as effective treatments for children with the common cold:
By SMH Webmaster on 10/6/2015 8:50 AM
If you are using chemicals to get rid of bugs inside your home, you might want to find a new approach. According to a meta-analysis published in October’s 2015 Pediatric journal, childhood exposure to residential indoor insecticides was associated with a significant increased risk of childhood cancers, specifically childhood leukemia. 

Based on this study, the authors conclude that children may be at increased risk, compared to adults. Children’s immune systems are still developing and may provide less protection against environmental toxins. In addition, adults have mature detox systems and, therefore, are able to excrete harmful pesticides more than a developing child. Just consider the size of our little ones, yet exposed to the same amount of chemicals as adult bodies are. On top of all of this, children are low to the ground, crawling on the ground, regularly putting hands and other items in their mouths. This means more chances of exposure, ingestion or absorption of these potentially cancer-causing agents. 
By SMH Webmaster on 9/22/2015 2:53 PM
Nobody wants to have to take regular medications, but sometimes our health status requires we do so. Medications are formulated to help override or block a specific biochemical pathway in our body. However, long-term use of certain medications can change the way our body absorbs, excretes or metabolizes certain nutrients. Here are a few commonly used medications, and the nutrient depletions to consider.

If you are currently taking a statin, your body might be lacking in coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Statins work by inhibiting an enzyme that is needed to produce cholesterol. Sounds great, right? But, blocking this enzyme also blocks the body’s ability to make CoQ10. 
By SMH Webmaster on 9/2/2015 3:50 PM
For long-term weight management success, think individualization. We all have different reasons for why we can’t lose and keep weight off. Therefore, customizing weight management plans by looking at the whole person is the key. 

Five Reasons People Gain Weight
One of the first steps in losing weight is determining what caused you to gain those extra pounds. From the naturopathic perspective, here are five common causes for weight gain:

By SMH Webmaster on 7/30/2015 12:54 PM
In my practice, I often meet with women who are preparing for conception. Having a baby is a huge decision, and there are many things women can do to prepare for a future in motherhood, beginning with the healthiest pregnancy possible. 

It takes around 120 days for an egg to fully mature, and around the same amount of time for sperm to generate, during which time they are vulnerable to toxicity and nutrient deficiencies. Therefore I recommend women who are planning for pregnancy really begin fine-tuning their diet and lifestyle three months prior to trying for pregnancy.  
By SMH Webmaster on 5/11/2015 12:50 PM

With summer just around the corner, let’s review some sun safety tips, as well as my top picks for non-toxic, yet effective sunscreens.

Keep infants under six months of age out of direct sunlight, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. Babies’ skin is less mature compared to older children and adults, and sunscreen is not recommended in this population as there is an increased risk of side effects from chemicals in sunscreen. 

Wear protective clothing. Look for shirts, hats and shorts that provide the best UV protection. Check out this local Prairie Village company, Swim Zip.

By SMH Webmaster on 5/5/2015 8:21 AM
I just came across an interesting study regarding the impact of iron supplementations on female sexual dysfunction. According to a study from 2014 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, significant improvements in libido were noted after women with diagnosed iron deficiency were started on an iron supplement. This small study of about 200 women aged 18-49 had diagnosed iron deficiency and also scored high on a commonly used anxiety measuring scale called the Beck Anxiety Inventory questionnaire. 

If you are struggling with low libido, discuss with your doctor if a blood test to rule out iron deficiency is indicated. Other symptoms linked to iron deficiency include anxiety, restless sleep, restless leg syndrome, hair loss and fatigue. Populations at risk for iron deficiency can include women with heavy menstrual periods and those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
By SMH Webmaster on 4/13/2015 8:47 AM
Growing research suggests that eating slower and more thoughtfully could help with weight problems. 

Whether we are sitting in front of the TV eating a bag of chips, shoving down breakfast in our car ride to work, or sitting at our favorite Mexican food restaurant finishing a basket of chips, before you know it, you have finished eating without even noticing it. Following this mindless eating trend will result in overeating, yet not feeling mentally satisfied with the meal.

Research suggests that applying mindful eating techniques can aid in healthful weight management. 
By SMH Webmaster on 3/24/2015 2:18 PM
According to a recent article in the Current Oncology Reports journal, Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM) has become a popular approach among cancer patients. As patient interest in complementary therapies increases, so does the number of studies that suggest stress management, targeted nutritional supplements, enhanced general nutrition and physical activity may have a positive effect on survival of cancer patients.  

The goal of CIM is to complement the experience of your cancer treatment regimen and to serve as a jumping off point once you have finished with conventional therapies. This can include adding in natural or nutritional therapy to help prevent or offset common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, or starting down a healthful path of secondary cancer prevention using diet and lifestyle interventions. Highest priority is to safely proceed with conventional care as recommended by your medical oncologist, while maintaining the highest quality of life possible. Fatigue, digestive upset, cognitive dysfunction, neuropathy, heart failure and sexual dysfunction are just a handful of symptoms that can occur concurrently and after treatment.
By SMH Webmaster on 3/10/2015 11:30 AM
The recent weather has me excited for the fresh-grown produce that will start to become more abundant in the grocery stores and at the farmer’s market. Let’s review this years Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen shoppers guides to pesticides in produce, put together by the non-profit organization Environmental Working Group (EWG).

You will notice the Dirty Dozen list below includes 2014’s list (in brackets), which has the same 12 foods, just shuffled around slightly. Apples consistently rank at the top of the list, and strawberries surprisingly dropped towards the bottom of the list. 

If you are able to purchase organic food, do so. If your access to organic products or financial resources don’t allow, use the EWG Dirty Dozen guide and be particular on what items you purchase non-organic. 

By SMH Webmaster on 3/4/2015 4:57 PM
Over the past five years, rates of ADD/ADHD diagnoses have skyrocketed. More than half of children diagnosed with this condition will receive some form of prescription medication. While most parents and doctors agree that the least medication in our little ones is best, sometimes parents feel medication is the last and final option. Before you start your child on a medication, consider the following:

Your child might have a nutritional deficiency. Although blood can’t accurately test all nutrients, there are a handful of nutritional tests that should be ruled out with childhood mood or behavior concerns. Some children struggle with communicating symptoms to parents. If your child suffers with headaches, stomach aches or other pain conditions, this could be connected with the behavior concerns. Diet is always high on the list of things to adjust with any behavior concern. Optimizing nutrient intake, while minimizing inflammatory foods can be very helpful.  Children need lots of sleep....
By SMH Webmaster on 3/4/2015 11:05 AM
It’s that time of year again when we head indoors for the winter, and cold and flu season starts to emerge. With the recent spread of respiratory virus Enterovirus 68 that Dr. Sweat blogged about last week, many families are worried about what this season might hold. Here are my top six diet and lifestyle tips to help prevent and/or treat a cold or flu:

• Eat lightly Starting to feel the onset of the cold/flu? Your next stop shouldn’t be at an all-you-can-eat buffet, or stopping by the local pub for some fried cheese sticks. Instead, stop by the grocery store, pick up some broth soup and orange-colored produce. Orange-colored produce, like carrots, sweet potatoes or cantaloupe contain beta carotene. Beta carotene helps strengthen the integrity of your respiratory tract. The stronger your cells in your respiratory tract, the less likely a virus is going to be able to enter your system.

• Keep your membranes moist! This means drinking plenty of plain water. Also,...
By SMH Webmaster on 2/10/2015 4:55 PM
Teaching your child how to swallow pills can be a hair-pulling experience for parents, but a very important skill for your child to master. I still have vivid memories of my mother trying to teach me how to swallow a multivitamin around age 8. She roughly broke up an Oreo cookie and had me practice swallowing pieces (she will deny this was her method). Here are some tips on how to teach your child to effectively swallow pills. It is best to start the learning process around ages 6-11. 

First, demonstrate the process. Have them watch you swallow a supplement/medication/empty capsule. Show the capsule on your tongue, drink liquid and then show them that the pill is gone.  Have your child take several sips of water prior to trying these methods. A moist throat will make it easier for the pill to go down.  Go to your local health food store and purchase small and empty clear capsules, usually size 2 or 4. Have your child place a capsule in his or her mouth and take a sip of water to get the capsule to float. Then have them look down, and swallow.  ...
By SMH Webmaster on 1/27/2015 4:51 PM
Is anyone else sad to see Restaurant Week go? I love the opportunity to try area restaurants or menu options I haven’t experienced yet. However, if your New Year’s resolution is still in play and you have hard time making healthy choices, dining out can be a challenge. This February, Shawnee Mission Health (SMH) is partnering with seven Johnson County, Kan., restaurants to help you put your heart health first while helping the community at the same time.

February marks the beginning of American Hearth Month, dedicated to raising awareness of heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women. One of the best ways to fight heart disease is by following a healthy diet that incorporates whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and is low in saturated fats. 

Throughout the month of February, restaurants Grand Street Café Lenexa, Newport Grill, Paradise Diner, Story, Tavern at Mission Farms, Tavern in the Village and Ya Ya’s will offer dishes that are low in fats and sodium and other ingredients...
By SMH Webmaster on 1/13/2015 4:43 PM
It’s January, which means time to stash away the holiday treats in the back of the fridge! I run a yearly 21-Day cleanse program at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, and our group officially starts the dietary protocol next week. I don’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to jump start your health goals, so here is a simplified version of a basic cleanse you could start on your own this coming Monday. 

Think of a cleanse as a way to reset bad habits and start down a more healthful path. Yes, you could lose weight by just doing the following basic plan. If weight loss is a goal, start a diet journal and write down everything you are consuming, plus all physical activity you are involved in during the week. Ask a friend, loved one or coworker to join you.

Select four of the options below to follow for a strict seven days:

Eliminate caffeine and alcohol. Eliminate refined and artificial sugars. Increase your vegetable intake to five servings daily.  Drink water – at least...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/30/2014 4:48 PM
I love seeing more health-minded businesses and services pop up around Kansas City, and I hope that trend continues into 2015. In no particular order, here is a list of my top, local health-minded businesses of 2015. 

T.Loft – Kansas City, Mo., and Leawood   For the longest time I thought this place was a home décor spot, as the location on Stateline and 80th had a decorative bench outside, but was pleasantly surprised to find this great juice bar. The in-house freshly made juices are awesome – I suggest the Warrior Juice. And if you are in need of a grab and go lunch, they have many options to choose from. They recently added smoothies to the menu as well. 

Evolve Paleo – Lenexa  This is a local meal service that will prepare delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or snack options following the diet plan of grain-free, dairy-free and sugar-free. If you suffer from a food intolerance from one of these food items or are trying a low-carb/high-protein diet, this is a great addition...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/19/2014 4:37 PM
How well do you know your family medical history? Holiday family gatherings serve a nice opportunity to piece together your family medical history, and maybe even learn a little bit of your childhood health history, too. Here are some standard medical history questions and some unique ones to try and find out this holiday season.

Who to include in your family history?

The most important people to include are parents, siblings and children. Grandparents, aunts and uncles are next, followed by everyone else you have blood relation with. Don’t think you need to reach out to your mom’s third cousin’s father. 

Does it seem impossible to find out your blood family history due to adoption, estrangement, etc.?

Use other avenues to look for your genetic predispositions. 23andMe is a genetic lab that can test your saliva for genetic predispositions for the low price of $99. The FDA recently put some heavy restrictions on what could be interpreted from the genetic results, but the lab will give...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/9/2014 4:32 PM
Already noticing holiday weight gain and fatigue? While holiday eating and lack of exercise could be contributing, the underlying cause is often unmanaged stress. Here are some tips for stress reduction over the next few weeks.

Write down your biggest holiday stressors. If you don’t know what stresses you out, how can you try and manage it? Take a blank sheet of paper and write down you top five stressors. It could be a person, place, thing or idea. Go through your list and cross out the ones that are out of your control, and keep the ones on the list that you have control over.  Take time for yourself. Schedule some sort of self-care over the next few weeks and only schedule things that don’t increase stress. This can include an Epsom salt bath, a massage or a relaxed evening with friends. 

Deep breathing. Practicing deep breathing and self-relaxation is not a skill most are born with. A patient recently introduced me to a phone app that will help guide you through a 10-minute...
By SMH Webmaster on 11/25/2014 4:26 PM
With an estimated one in four Americans indicating they have a food intolerance to one or more foods, chances are you might have a guest over the holidays with a specific food restriction. (Prevalence of a food allergy is less common, with about 1 in 100 adult suffers.) 

Common food intolerances can include dairy, gluten, wheat, eggs and certain sugars. Because these intolerances can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, headaches/migraines, skin rashes and generally just not feeling well, it’s important to take your guests into consideration as you plan your meals.   

Here are some of my favorite websites with recipes for specific food intolerances:

For Thanksgiving recipes that are gluten and dairy free, visit Click on the Thanksgiving tab for ways to transform many favorite food items into gluten and dairy-free options.  Although she leans toward a Paleo style diet, Elana’s Pantry has a recipe section for many special dietary restrictions. If nuts...
By SMH Webmaster on 11/4/2014 4:17 PM
If you have a tendency towards depressive symptoms in the fall and winter months, followed by periods free of depression, you could be experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Depressive symptoms range from mild to severe and can include fatigue, lack of interest in normal activities, weight gain and social withdrawal.

Young adults and women are most likely to experience SAD, but it can occur in both sexes and in almost all age categories. Current theories as to the underlying cause is an ongoing investigation, but here are a few therapies to consider. 

Get some light

The prevalence of SAD increases as you move from Florida to New Hampshire, which has prompted researchers to look at light therapy as treatment.

Bright light therapy consists of:

• Daily exposure to a box containing fluorescent lamps • Using the optimal dose of 10,000 lux for 30 minutes to two hours daily • Time, as it can take two to four weeks to notice improvement.   These 10,000 lux light boxes are 100 times brighter than sunlight, so there are specific precautions in how to use light boxes safely (i.e. don’t stare directly at the light). Light therapy has been shown an effective treatment for one-half to two-thirds of patients with SAD. 

By SMH Webmaster on 10/21/2014 4:11 PM
Canker sores are a common and painful problem for some individuals. The cause of these painful lesions remains unclear, but genetic predisposition, nutritional deficiencies, infections, hormonal changes, immunodeficiency and environmental agents have been suggested. Here are five things to consider if you suffer with these painful, recurring lesions.

• First-line therapy for canker sores should be vitamin and mineral deficiency replacement The nutrients to consider testing for include iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12. The lab ranges for these nutrients are quite wide, so even if your levels come back in the normal range, low normal readings could still mean deficiency. For any nutritional lab to be useful, the provider must take the patients symptoms into consideration. • Change your toothpaste The more words and marketing phrases on the toothpaste, the more likely your toothpaste has additives that can irritate the oral mucosa. This really hit home for me when I was pregnant...
By SMH Webmaster on 10/7/2014 4:07 PM
Do you have a water filter on your kitchen faucet? If you don’t filter your drinking tap water, I hope you consider installing one this weekend. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant soon or have children, put this task on the top of your to-do list.    

Our local water supply company does a great job at making sure they meet governmental standards set for drinkable water. In fact, I compared water conditions of other major cities to our local water statistics and Johnson County seems to rank more favorably in regards to clean water standards. But we would all be naive in thinking our water was free of chemical additives, fertilizer run-off and lead to name a few.  

All water treatment facilities add chemical disinfectants to the water supply to kill off disease causing viruses and bacteria. Giardia is one that comes to mind, and if you have experienced Giardia (an intestinal infection), then you might be a big proponent of this disinfectant process. Yes, I would agree I don’t want to...
By SMH Webmaster on 9/23/2014 11:22 AM
A well-stocked first aid kit is a necessity in every home, especially homes with children. Band-Aids, ibuprofen, Benadryl and an accurate quick-read thermometer are just a few important components of a first aid kit. However, a well-rounded kit could also include a handful of safe and effective natural remedies. 

Whether your child has a scraped knee, stuffy nose or an ear ache, natural remedies can be a safe and effective option for treatment. Natural remedies rarely have side effects, are cost effective and can be much gentler on our littlest ones.

But where do you begin? Tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 24, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at LiveBlue in the Prairie Village Shops, I will be educating parents on basic natural remedies for children – discussing everything from how to effectively use probiotics, to how to dose elderberry syrup in a child with the beginning signs of a cold. As a mom myself, these are therapies I regularly use on my own family. Register here to join me at this free presentation. 

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