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Summer sun safety: protect your skin and eyes from the heat


Cool shades and a stylish hat aren’t just summertime accessories—they can also keep you healthy in the hot summer months. It’s always important to protect your skin from the sun, and equally important to properly protect your body during hot weather.

  • Stay shady—While you might be tempted to bask in the sunshine, limit your time exposed directly to rays. Seek shaded or air conditioned areas such as libraries or malls and, whenever possible, schedule outdoor events for the cooler, early parts of the morning. The sun’s rays are at their strongest at midday, making that an ideal time to not be outside. No matter what time of day it is, wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to exposure and needs to be re-applied every two hours or immediately after swimming, toweling off or sweating a great deal – many people put it on once and forget that it needs to be reapplied!

  • Stay hydrated—treat yourself to water and juice, but stay away from alcohol and caffeine, which actually dehydrates your body.
  • Stay light—if you’ve ever felt the heat rising from blacktop, you know that dark colors retain heat. Keep your summer clothes light-colored to reflect heat and lightweight to avoid getting overheated. Wear a brimmed hat or sunglasses to protect your face and eyes. In addition to preventing squint-induced wrinkles, protecting your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays helps prevent cataracts from forming.
  • Stay sweaty—when your activities do put you out in the sun, be aware of the signs of heat stroke: altered mental state/confusion, nausea and lack of sweat. If you are experiencing these symptoms or see someone else experiencing them, seek medical attention immediately. Remember, if it’s hot and you’re not sweating, something might be wrong.

Summer fun can still be safe and include sunshine, as long as you keep the above tips in mind. What are your favorite ways to stay safe and beat the heat? Let us know in the comments.

Find new ways to relax this summer with integrative therapies


Summer fun can wear thin after a while for some people, and it’s important to know how to relax when your body tells you it needs to slow down. Integrative therapies, such as aromatherapy, massage and acupuncture, can help you slow down and feel rested.

Aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils for healing purposes, can improve your physical and emotional well-being. Did you know that this service is free to patients of Calumet Medical Center, Mercy Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital? We use only 100 percent pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils extracted from the flowers, leaves, bark, wood, roots, seeds and peels of plants.

Inhaling different essential oils is believed to stimulate brain function and can result in benefits like stress relief, eased pain and increased relaxation. Talk to your clinician to determine if aromatherapy is appropriate for your needs.

Massage therapy is another non-medicinal way to promote healing and relieve stress, and the Mary Kimball Anhaltzer Center for Integrative Medicine in Oshkosh has experienced, licensed massage therapists to help relieve pain and reduce stress. Other possible benefits include:

  • Increased blood circulation
  • Increased lymphatic circulation and drainage
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Increased energy balance
  • Increased muscle mobility
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Increased energy, vitality and vigor

Continue Reading »

Fire up the grill for these healthy cookout ideas


Summertime means cookout time, but just because it comes from the grill doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy! We have ideas for keeping your summer diet healthy for your heart and your waistline—all it takes is thinking a little differently about the standard grilled menu.

Go fishin’
Forgo the traditional beef griller for fish! Oily fish, like tuna and salmon, are full of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. You could form patties or treat a fillet with lemon juice, and add your favorite herbs and spices for even more flavor. Keep in mind fish cooks fast, so you want to be attentive while you are grilling it.

Slim down your burger
If you can’t go without your red meat, use lean or extra lean beef and drain or pat off the excess fat after you’ve grilled it. Did you know that the recommended serving size for a hamburger patty is three ounces? A three ounce burger is the roughly the size of the palm of your hand. Keep your patties on the slim side, or add in finely chopped vegetables like peppers or onions to make a thick burger that’s heavy on nutrients.

Think green
Take the mixed veggie-burger one step further by grilling vegetables instead of meat. Kabobs are an easy way to grill up a variety of veggies, and they’re easy to handle, too. Fill a skewer with veggies like mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini or yellow squash—anything with some “flesh” to it should work well. Lightly spray the skewered veggies with olive oil and place them on the grill. For the most flavor you’ll want to keep flipping occasionally, until they are slightly blackened. You can also grill corn on the cob right in its husk; place on the grill for about 30 minutes, rotating occasionally. Let it cool for about five minutes after removing it from the grill, and before you peel the husk off. Continue Reading »

Surviving seasonal allergies


For many, spring and summer means spending time outdoors among flourishing greenery and cleaning out their homes after a long winter cooped up inside. For others, spring means pollen, mold spores and dust mites—some of the most common allergy triggers.

When allergens enter the nose, the immune system interprets them as a foreign substance and begins releasing antibodies to fight them off. When the antibodies attack the allergens, a chemical called histamine is released into the blood and causes classic allergy symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, coughing and itchy or watery eyes. Thankfully, there are several ways to treat seasonal allergies, with both medication and lifestyle options.

Over the counter medications
For mild seasonal allergies, nasal sprays and oral over the counter (OTC) antihistamines can be helpful. Antihistamines are exactly what they sound like: they reduce allergy symptoms by lowering the amount of histamine made when an allergen enters your body. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness, so read the label carefully! Continue Reading »

Are you really eating healthy?


I received a survey in the mail last week. You see, back in 2009 I enrolled in a cancer prevention study and have received lengthy surveys every few years or so. It is a very thorough survey that includes hundreds of questions and takes several days to fill out. The survey inquires about every aspect of health and lifestyle: information about immunizations; diet; hours spent sitting, sleeping or moving; medications taken; caffeine consumption and more.

Except for a few minor, non-life threatening ailments, I consider myself a pretty healthy person and my doctor gave me a clean bill of health during my annual wellness/preventive visit (don’t forget to schedule yours!). I was confident that my answers to the survey questions would be a no-brainer. Overall, boy, was I surprised, especially when it came to the diet section.

The survey listed every kind of fruit and vegetable and asked the respondent to indicate frequency of consumption. I thought I was a good fruit and vegetable eater, but there are some foods that I don’t eat that often for various reasons. So my consumption of kale, which I tend to eat frequently in the summer, but not as much in the winter, actually results in a low monthly average consumption overall. Likewise, cantaloupes and other melons are eaten only seasonally, so their consumption average was low. Continue Reading »

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