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#GivingTuesday—A Celebration of Generosity

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First there was Thanksgiving. Then Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now there is  #GivingTuesday, an international movement to celebrate generosity by providing an easy way to give to non-profit organizations in the true spirit of the Christmas season. Both of Affinity Health System’s foundations – Mercy Health Foundation (mmcgift.org) and St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation (affinityhealth.org/stefoundation) – are participating in #GivingTuesday on December 2, 2014.  We are asking our communities to join us in support of two very special projects that will have an immediate local impact.

#GivingTuesday gifts to Mercy Health Foundation will help Oshkosh-area women undergoing cancer treatment by supporting an updated wig boutique at Mercy Medical Center.

“Everybody’s cancer story is different,” Nancy Wilms, a cancer survivor said. “You have to grieve it and experience it your own way. Still, if some of the steps along the way can be improved, it will be a better journey.”

Nancy volunteers in Mercy’s current wig room to improve what she can for others going through cancer now. For the future, Mercy Health Foundation is raising funds to remodel the existing space to provide patients with a welcoming and private area to refresh and receive the assistance they need to feel good about themselves. Continue Reading »

Myths and Facts about Diabetes

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There are many misconceptions about diabetes, including its causes and how to manage it. In recognition of National Diabetes Awareness Month, this article will address some popularly held beliefs about diabetes that may not mesh with reality.

Myth: Eating sugar (or too much sugar) causes diabetes.
Fact: There are many causes of diabetes, but eating sugar is not one of them. Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas does not produce the insulin needed to transport glucose to the body’s cells, is caused by genetics and other factors we haven’t discovered yet (some research suggests viruses are the culprit). Type 2 diabetes may be caused by genetics as well, or a host of lifestyle factors. Sugar intake alone is not enough to cause diabetes.

Myth: Going “sugar free” will prevent me from developing diabetes.
Fact: While there is no question that most Americans eat too much sugar, there is no research that supports going “sugar free” results in being diabetes free. Given that the American diet is high in added sugars, most health care providers agree that keeping an eye on the amount of added sugars we consume leads to better general wellness.

Myth: People with diabetes cannot eat pasta, rice or desserts and have to eat special food.
Fact: While individuals with diabetes may be more conscious of foods that raise their blood sugar levels, they can enjoy any kind of food they’d like in moderation. Healthy eating plans for people with diabetes are typically the same as most health professionals would recommend for anyone else:

  • Low in saturated fats
  • Heart-healthy fats and fiber
  • Moderate in salt and sugar
  • Lean sources of protein
  • Fruit and non-starchy vegetables
  • Whole grains such as brown rice and oats

People with diabetes—like everyone else—should enjoy dessert such as chocolate and other sweets in moderation. The key to good blood sugar control is to follow a sensible eating plan: keep an eye on portions, lead an active lifestyle and be compliant with medications.

Myth: Getting diabetes means never leading a healthy life.
Fact: There is a difference between living with diabetes and living with well-controlled diabetes. When individuals with diabetes manage their condition properly, for example avoiding spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, they can prevent or delay other complications of the disease. Having a positive relationship with food and knowing how much of what to eat, being physically active, seeking the support of others, keeping up with doctor visits, managing stress and controlling blood sugar levels are key to leading a healthy life with diabetes. These recommendations are what everyone else could benefit from as well!

What other myths have you hear about diabetes? Send us your comments!

For more information about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org

How Daylight Saving Time can affect your sleep patterns

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Losing or gaining an hour of sleep on any given day doesn’t necessarily throw our sleep patterns into a tailspin, but the Daylight Saving Time change poses a bigger issue than a long nap’s worth of sleep. In addition to the minutes of sleep you’re gaining or losing, you’re also adjusting to light cycles. With “falling back,” you’re shifting your internal clock later while the sky is getting darker—and bringing cues for bedtime—earlier. Here are a few areas to look out for when it comes to how your body reacts to this transition:

On the road
Just because the clocks have changed doesn’t mean your schedule has. Studies have shown that there is an uptick in car accidents in the weeks following the fall Daylight Saving Time change, in part because even if people aren’t physically more tired, a sudden adjustment in sleep patterns can lead to lower cognitive performance. This includes performance behind the wheel. If you’re driving as it’s getting dark out when you’re used to driving in daylight, it could take some time to adjust, so be extra mindful when you’re on the road.

Mind your mood
For many people, it’s hard to get out of bed to a dark sky. As our daylight hours get shorter, it’s important to seek out mood-enhancing sunlight when we can. In the first weeks after the time change you may actually be able to sync your wake time with the rising daylight; if you’re susceptible to the “winter blues,” take advantage of this early morning boost! Further into the winter season, try to schedule sunlight breaks during the day. Getting up in the dark and then heading home in the same conditions can be a real hit to your mood, making exposure to natural light a much needed bonus. Continue Reading »

Five ways to use massage therapy for improving health

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Many people see massage therapy as a luxury but in reality, massage therapy is good for your physical and emotional health. More research is being done to learn how massage therapy affects your body physiologically, but there are some things we are aware of now. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy:

  1. Lowers stress.  The long-term effects of stress can take emotional and physical tolls on your body. Massage therapy may relieve stress and conditions associated with it, such as tension headaches.
  2. Increases immune function.  Medical research indicates that massage therapy can help boost immune system strength by increasing the activity level of the body’s natural “killer T cells,” that fight off viruses.
  3. Boosts mental health and wellness. Research suggests that symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression (all associated with mental health) may be helped with massage therapy.
  4. Manages pain.  Pain can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and impede recovery from illness or injury. Recent findings highlight the role of massage in pain management.
  5. Improves physical fitness. Elite and recreational athletes alike can benefit from massage therapy. It can reduce muscle tension, improve exercise performance and prevent injuries.

Continue Reading »

Pumpkins: the fall fruit mascot

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Every fall we see pumpkins brightening up our yards and our front porches; a sure sign that Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner. Pumpkins, a type of squash, are usually orange but come in all different shapes and sizes. While most people consider pumpkins vegetables, pumpkins are actually considered a fruit.

There are two types of squash: winter squash and summer squash. Summer squash are harvested and eaten when the skin is thin and tender. They tend to have a shorter storage span due to the thin skin and must be eaten promptly. Zucchini and yellow summer squash are just a couple of several varieties of squash you can enjoy during the summer months.

Pumpkins are included within the winter squash category along with butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash. Winter squash are known for their hard, thick skin, which is what makes carving pumpkins so challenging. The thick skin also contributes to a long shelf life, allowing these winter squash to be kept for months when stored in a dark and cool place such as a basement or in a garage. Continue Reading »

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.