MS Health & Wellness Newsletter

June 2016

Welcome to June!

Here are your fun facts for June:

  • The month is named for Juno the Roman queen of the gods.
  • The rose is June's official flower... because why not?
  • June 21st is the longest day of the year.
  • June 19th is Father's Day.

Things to Do in NYC This June

  1. June 3 - June 5, 2016: Governors Ball on Randalls Island

  2. June 17, 2016: Philharmonic in the Park (Central Park)

  3. June 18, 2016: Coney Island Mermaid Parade (1pm)
  4. June 26, 2016: NYC Pride March
  5. May 24 - August 14, 2016: Shakespeare in the Park
  6. The Jazz Age Lawn Party 2016 - takes place over two weekends: June 11 and June 12, 2016 and August 13 and August 14, 2016.
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Repellent Bugs: My Brush with Lyme Disease

By: Todd DeStaebler

I went camping a couple of weeks ago and, even though I performed several tick checks, I ended up bringing one home - firmly latched to my leg. I have two boy scouts in my family so tick education is a yearly recurring topic. I used a special tool for removing ticks, but she wouldn’t let go (it was identified as an adult female deer tick – more on that later).

The tick remover tool used was thin, metal, and spoon-like with a narrow split at the tip. You slide the key under the tick so that it’s back legs cannot grip your skin and push itself deeper. Hopefully, the tick will get mad and back out. My tick obviously did not attend the same tick education courses and refused to leave my leg, even though it was skating the surface of the key, as designed.

It was time to move to plan B - to pull the tick out. With a pair of tweezers, I grabbed her gently near her head and gave a gentle pull. Always be gentle with ticks because grabbing its body will effectively squeeze whatever nasty toxins it contains out of it and into you. So grab it near its head. Gently lifting the tick will cause its mouth to lose its grip on you, much like if you were carrying something heavy in a pincer-like grip, like a book. The tick will want to reposition its mouth for a better bite and when it does, you, still applying upward pressure, will lift it away from your skin.

My tick, with its Olympian bite strength, did not let go. I pulled harder and broke her away from me, then put her in a covered container for later analysis. I dug out its mouth parts with the same technique used to remove a splinter. This step is not required, since, unlike a bee’s stinger, the mouth parts of a tick don’t do any further damage once its separated from the body.

I covered the bite wound with antibacterial ointment and a Band-Aid to prevent infection in addition to potential Lyme disease. That night, when I changed the Band-Aid, there was a bright red, very distinct circular rash around the bite. Ugh! This is the primary symptom of Lyme disease! I went to a local urgent care facility the next morning.

As a preventative measure, they gave me one turbo dose of antibiotics and sent the tick for analysis. It was too soon to tell whether I was infected or not as symptoms develop in the first week. Symptoms include a bull’s-eye/target shaped rash that increases in size/diameter and flu-like symptoms including fever, aches, pains, nausea. Thankfully, none of that happened to me. Eight days after being bitten, I was declared free of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and either of the other two diseases transmitted by ticks in our region.

I learned a lot about tick bites that week like that most tick bites do NOT result in disease. A study of park rangers in upstate New York found that only 1% of bites are infectious. Also, a tick usually needs to be embedded for 24-48 hours to be an infection risk (Mine I estimate was between 14-24 hours). If caught early enough, as mine was, a course of antibiotics will knock out your infection.

I feel much less anxious about tick bites now than I did when I first discovered the tick bite, but am in no rush to go through this again. I will redouble my efforts to prevent tick bites in the first place with protective clothing treated in tick repellent, and doing more careful, more frequent tick checks. Fortunately, our next camping trip will be in bear country - watch for my report in the August edition of the newsletter!

New Federal Dietary Guidelines and Nutrition Labels

By: Todd DeStaebler

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the cornerstone of Federal nutrition policy and nutrition education activities. The new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the 8th edition released since 1980 and remains the current edition until the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is released.

The Dietary Guidelines is required under the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act, which states that every 5 years, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) must jointly publish a report containing nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public. The statute (Public Law 101-445, 7 U.S.C. 5341 et seq.) requires that the Dietary Guidelines be based on the preponderance of current scientific and medical knowledge. The 2015-2020 edition of the Dietary Guidelines builds from the 2010 edition with revisions based on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and consideration of Federal agency and public comments.

Previous editions of the Dietary Guidelines focused primarily on individual dietary components such as food groups and nutrients. However, people do not eat food groups and nutrients in isolation but rather in combination. The totality of one’s diet forms an overall eating pattern. The components of the eating pattern can have interactive and potentially cumulative effects on health. These patterns can be tailored to an individual’s personal preferences, enabling us to choose the diet that is right for ourselves. As a result, healthy eating patterns and their food and nutrient characteristics are a focus of the recommendations in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.

The Dietary Guidelines is designed for nutrition and health professionals to help all individuals ages 2+ years and their families consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet. The information in the Dietary Guidelines is used by policymakers in developing Federal food, nutrition, and health policies and programs. It also is the basis for Federal nutrition education materials designed for the public and for the nutrition education components of HHS and USDA food programs. Take a look at the latest nutrition info at the links above.

On May 20, the FDA finalized a new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices.

The new label features a refreshed design that, at a glance, appears unchanged, but they’ve added more information to the old label without excessive clutter. Included now is updated information about nutrition science – daily allowances for nutrients, added sugars, and more required nutrients displayed. Also updated are serving sizes to reflect how most of us really eat, vs. the small servings that would reflect a lower calorie content per serving. For example, a 16-ounce beverage was displayed as two servings even though almost everyone drinks the whole thing at once.

Manufacturers will need to use the new label by July 26, 2018. However, manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply. If you’re a label reader – and you should be – this seems to be a sensible improvement rather than information overload.

A Penny Saved...

By: Carole Booth

We've all heard that age old adage "a penny saved is a penny earned" - and it's true. Just as it's often easier to lose weight by eating less food, it's often easier to save more money by spending less rather than earning more.

Whether you're looking to put money aside for your nest egg, a rainy day, or that extended vacation - it's best to start saving sooner rather than later. In this article, I'll outline some easy ways to save more money.

  1. Pay yourself first. By this I mean, have contributions automatically removed from your paycheque and deposited into your savings plan. This is easy if you've signed up for Capco's matching program - woohoo free money! It's much easier to save money if it's done automatically before you have a chance to see it let alone spend it.
  2. Eat out less. Whether it's because of limited kitchen space, laziness, or lack of time, it's often easier to pick something up than to make a meal at home. Not surprisingly, this adds up - quickly. Start making meals at home a few extra days a week and I'm sure both your wallet and waistline will thank you.
  3. Become friends with your bank's ATMs. Stop paying unnecessary bank fees and withdraw money exclusively from your bank's machines. Additionally, start relying more on cash and less on credit. Studies show that people actually spend significantly more money when they use their credit cards over other payment options.
  4. Track your spending habits. Some banks have a built-in budgeting feature in their online banking sites, but, if not, you can track your expenses in excel or use one of the many apps available (Mint or You Need a Budget). After a couple months of detailed transactions tracking you'll start to see clear spending habits and will see what can easily be trimmed. For example, you may find that you're more likely to eat out near the end of the week when work starts picking up.
  5. Grocery shop on a full stomach. Ok, so this one may not be a huge saver, but it still works for me. I've always found that if I walk into a grocery store hungry not only do I buy way more than I need, but I also have a tendency to buy more junk. That package of animal crackers and pint of Ben & Jerry's won't seem quite as tempting if you've just eaten a full meal.

Spice Up Your Food: Garlic

By: Chris Giannetto

Garlic is a plant in the onion family and is closely related to shallots and leeks. Being Sicilian, I put garlic on literally everything, even where it clearly doesn't belong. Thankfully, I'm not alone; the use of garlic for medicinal purposes has been documented back through the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, reeks, Romans and the Chinese. Aside from the benefits of being very high in vitamins and minerals (and having a low caloric content), garlic contains a unique compound which makes it really worth adding to as many meals as you can.

The compound in garlic which gives it the distinct smell when crushed, cooked, or chopped is called allicin. After allicin is digested it travels throughout the body where it provides some interesting benefits. Allicin is an immune booster and a 12-week study involving a large number of participants concluded that the average number of common cold occurrences were reduced by 63% versus a placebo. The average length of symptoms in those who did get sick were also reduced by a whopping 70% - just 1.5 days versus a full week in the placebo group.

High doses of garlic (via supplementation or prepared garlic) have been shown to improve high blood pressure and cholesterol. In fact, several studies showed that garlic consumed or supplemented in relatively high amounts (1500 mg or 4 cloves of garlic/day) was actually equally as effective as cholesterol reducing drugs. Having low bad cholesterol levels is paramount to reducing the risk of heart disease and to having a healthy heart overall. Garlic may even help to prevent Alzheimer's disease by fighting the oxidative damage from free radicals (which contribute to the overall aging process).

Believe it or not, garlic was one of the earliest substances that athletes would use as a performance enhancing substance. The ancient Greek Olympians would take garlic to reduce muscular fatigue and enhance their exercise capacity. There are very few studies that investigate if the ancient Greeks probable garlic breath helped them bring home the gold, but lab tests in animals (most notably mice) appear to back them up. Lab studies have shown that garlic increases athletic capacity for those with existing heart conditions, but the evidence so far is inconclusive in healthy adults.

With all of these benefits it's no wonder that some people have claimed that garlic can even help you live longer. My grandmother swears by this and she'll be celebrating her 80th birthday next month. The longevity effects of most things are almost impossible to conclusively prove (sorry, grandma). However, with all of the benefits of garlic that have been clinically proven, eating more of it certainly won't hurt your chances for living healthier. Thankfully, garlic is delicious and an easy way to add a ton of flavor to any meal. Remember to crush it first to release the aroma and really bring out the flavor when cooking it. Saute it in a pan with some other vegetables or meat and you'll be churning out meals like Emeril in no time.