HFCSD Health & Wellness Newsletter

February 2019

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The Month of Hearts

Whether you are thinking Valentine's Day or Heart Health, February is the month of hearts. We all need to keep our hearts healthy.
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American Heart Month

From the American Heart Association:

Life’s Simple 7

Do you know there are seven easy ways to help control your risk for heart disease? Manage your heart risk by understanding “Life’s Simple 7.”

1. Get active

Daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life. If you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day (like brisk walking), five times per week, you can almost guarantee yourself a healthier and more satisfying life while lowering your risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

What To Do

Start by learning the basics about fitness. Also, children need 60 minutes a day–every day–of physical activity, so find ways to workout with your kids to help ensure their heart health in addition to your own.

2. Control cholesterol

When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. Cholesterol is a waxy substance and our bodies use it to make cell membranes and some hormones, but when you have too much bad cholesterol (LDL), it combines with white blood cells and forms plaque in your veins and arteries. These blockages lead to heart disease and stroke.

What To Do

Try these tips to lower cholesterol with diet and foods.

3. Eat better

Healthy foods are the fuel our bodies use to make new cells and create the energy we need to thrive and fight diseases. If you are frequently skipping out on veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich whole grains, and lean meats including fish, your body is missing the basic building blocks for a healthy life.

What To Do

Want more ways to eat better? Try these tips:

  • Track what you eat with a food diary
  • Eat vegetables and fruits
  • Eat unrefined fiber-rich whole-grain foods
  • Eat fish twice a week
  • Cut back on added sugars and saturated fats

4. Manage blood pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, means the blood running through your arteries flows with too much force and puts pressure on your arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing microscopic tears. Our body then kicks into injury-healing mode to repair these tears with scar tissue. But unfortunately, the scar tissue traps plaque and white blood cells which can form into blockages, blood clots, and hardened, weakened arteries.

What To Do

To manage blood pressure, you should:

5. Lose weight

If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is at your waist — you’re at higher risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. If you’re overweight or obese, you can reduce your risk for heart disease by successfully losing weight and keeping it off. Even losing as few as five or ten pounds can produce a dramatic blood pressure reduction.

What To Do

Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to help you determine if you need to lose weight.

6. Reduce blood sugar

Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Your body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take your food energy into your cells. If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Although diabetes is treatable and you can live a healthy life with this condition, even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, most people with diabetes die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

What To Do

The following tips can all help reduce your blood sugar:

  • Reduce consumption of simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and sugary desserts
  • Get regular physical activity! Moderate intensity aerobic physical activity directly helps your body respond to insulin
  • Take medications or insulin if it is prescribed for you

7. Stop smoking

Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Like a line of tumbling dominoes, one risk creates another. Blood clots and hardened arteries increase your risks for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Smoking can also reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it harder to get the physical activity you need for better health.

What To Do

Whatever it takes for you to stop smoking, it is worth it! Visit the American Heart Association’s Quit Smoking website for tools and resources.

Learn more about “Life’s Simple 7” and take action with MyLifeCheck from the American Heart Association.

AvocaDO Eat Healthy Fats!

Avocados are full of unsaturated fat, the kind your heart loves. There's 5 grams of monounsaturated fat and 1 gram of polyunsaturated grams fat per 50g serving!
In a study where people at high risk for heart disease followed the Mediterranean diet (fruit veggies, fish/fat, whole grains) they reduced their risk of heart attack, stroke, and dying by 30%! Holy Guacamole!
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Healthy Heart Toast

This is a great way to get in healthy fats, grains, and protein! You'll need:

  • 1 slice Whole Grain bread
  • 1/4 avocado
  • Smoked Salmon/Tuna

Toast your bread, smash on the avo, and top with your fish! Super easy!

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National Children's Dental Health Month

Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. To access free online resources that can help you with teaching children about good oral health, visit ADA.org, click on Public Programs and then National Children's Dental Health Month.


Take good care of your child's baby teeth. They do eventually fall out but until they do, baby teeth play an important role in helping your child bite and chew food, and speak clearly. Many of the same treatment and evaluation options that adults have are also available to kids. These include X-rays, dental sealants, orthodontic treatment and more.

What to Expect During Childhood

  • Wiggly teeth
    When a child is about 6 years old, his/her teeth will begin to come loose. Let your child wiggle the tooth until it falls out on its own. This will minimize the pain and bleeding associate with a lost tooth.
  • Cavities
    Cavities can develop when sugar-containing foods are allowed to stay in the mouth for a long time. Bacteria that live on the teeth feast on these bits of food and can eat away at tooth enamel. Saliva washes away the acid between meals, but if your child is always eating, there may not be time for this acid to get washed away.

Even though we’ve been brushing and flossing our teeth for years and years, many of us are surprised to learn that we’re not doing it properly. Case in point: Did you know that proper brushing takes at least two minutes? Most adults do not come close to brushing that long.

These four steps are the best and easiest ways to help you remember how to care for your mouth, teeth and gums:

  1. Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes, especially first thing in the morning and before bedtime.

  2. Floss every day – usually at bedtime.

  3. Limit the number of times you eat snacks each day.

  4. Visit your dentist every 6 months for an oral exam and professional cleaning.

Snacking and tooth decay
If fluoride is our greatest protection against decay, then frequent snacking can be our teeth's biggest enemy. Every day, you and your family face snacking challenges. Here's what you need to know:

It's how often you snack that matters
The truth is that what your family eats isn't as important as when and how often they snack! It all has to do with the "plaque reaction," and this is how it works:

The plaque reaction
Everyone has plaque bacteria in their mouths. But when these plaque bacteria meet up with the sugars and starches that are found in snacks such as cookies, candies, dried fruits, soft drinks or even pretzels or potato chips, the plaque reacts to create acid, and a "plaque attack" occurs.

The fact is, most snacks that you eat contain either sugars or starches that give plaque this opportunity to make acid. And each "plaque attack" can last for up to 20 minutes after you have finished your snack. During this period, the plaque acid is attacking tooth enamel, making it weak. That's when cavities can start!

Fighting back against plaque
The good news is, you can take a stand against plaque! By brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and by reducing the number of times you snack each day, you and your family can help prevent tooth decay.

When it comes to snacking, it's best to choose something nutritious and to snack in moderation. It's also better to eat the whole snack at one time! Here's why: eating five pieces of a snack at one time exposes your teeth to possible tooth decay — for approximately 20 minutes. Nibbling on those same five pieces at five different times exposes your teeth to possible tooth decay for approximately 100 minutes. What a difference!

You need to watch baby's sweets, too!
Infants are just as susceptible to decay as older children and adults. In fact, Early Childhood Cavities can be a very serious condition. See The Preventing Early Childhood Cavities section below for more information.

The dental checkup
The dentist is your family's partner on the Bright Smiles pathway. Be sure to schedule regular dental appointments for the whole family. A child's first visit should take place before his or her third birthday.

Dental checkups early in a child's life allow children to have a positive dental health experience.

TIP: Take your young toddler with you to your own appointment first. That way, the dental office becomes a familiar place.

Your dental checkup: what to expect

Fluoride treatments:
Your dentist may treat your child's teeth with extra fluoride in the form of a gel to make teeth stronger. This gel goes in a tray that fits into the mouth that children wear for a few minutes to let the fluoride sink into their teeth. It comes in neat flavors for kids!

Dental sealants:
These are thin, protective plastic coatings applied by the dentist to the permanent back teeth (molars). They fill in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the teeth where foods and bacteria can get stuck and cause cavities. Once applied, sealants can last for several years.

X-rays: These "pictures" show the dentist what's going on inside the teeth and beneath the gum line. During the X-ray, your child will wear a lead apron to prevent unnecessary exposure.

Preventing early childhood cavities
(sometimes known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay)

Early Childhood Cavities is a childhood disease that can be prevented. The following steps can help guard your baby against this painful condition – and ask your dentist or physician for more information.

It's best not to put a bottle in bed with your baby. But if you must put a bottle in bed with your baby, put only plain water in it. Any liquid except water, even milk and juice, can cause cavities

You can use a bottle to feed your baby at regular feeding times, but allowing the bottle to be used as a pacifier can be a major cause of cavities.

  • Hold your baby while feeding him/her. If your baby falls asleep, remove the bottle and put him/her in bed.
  • Avoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle.
  • Avoid letting your toddler walk around with a bottle.
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Sports, Sports and Sports - What to do if my athlete is injured

Sports, Sports and Sports - What to do if my athlete is injured

The Winter season of sports is well under way. By now the athletes have been cleared, gone through try-outs and are in the middle of competition. However, if your athlete becomes injured during the season, here is what you need to know...

1. Your athlete needs to report any injuries to their coach as soon as they happen.

Sometimes athletes do not want to miss part of a game or practice, but continuing to participate when hurt can prolong the healing process and force them to miss more games.

2. If your athlete is evaluated by a medical professional, they will NEED a note to return to sports without restrictions. This note should be given to their coach or the nurse in their Health Office at School.

3. Concussion/Head Injury

If your athlete had a head injury or concussion, they will need to be evaluated by a medical professional. Once they are cleared by their primary care physician, they are still not allowed to practice or compete. By federal guidelines, the athlete must follow a "Return to Play" protocol after receiving medical clearance which involves progressive increase in activity and monitoring. Once this protocol is successfully completed, then the athlete may return to competition and practice.

4. Questions?

Call your athlete's Health Office, talk with the coach, or use Remind 101

High School Health Office 518-681- 4201

Middle School Health Office 518-681-4301

Remind 101 HS Health Office Code 81010 message @hshealtho

Remind 101 MS Health Office Code 81010 message @mshealtho

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Sometimes we all need a little help. Here are some resources.

211 (One easy phone number to call for free, confidential information and referrals 24 hours/7 days a week. Food assistance, housing assistance, employment help, heating/utilities help, abuse prevention, elder care, mental health services, substance use help, transportation, tax assistance, etc.) www.211neny.org

Alcoholics Anonymous www.aa.org 518-793-1113

Austim Awareness Society www.autism-society.org

Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org 800-342-2383

Epilepsy Foundation http://www.epilepsy.com/northeastern-new-york 518-456-7501

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ 800-273-8255

NY Smoke Free https://www.nysmokefree.com 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487)

Salvation Army http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/

Saratoga Bridges (Provides professional services to people with developmental disabilities and their families) http://www.saratogabridges.org/ 518-587-0723

Snack Safely (Guide to current ingredients in many common snack items. Beneficial to all who have a food allergy/intolerance/sensitivity. Updated regularly.) SnackSafely.com

WAIT House (helps homeless youth in New York's Warren and Washington Counties. The co-ed emergency shelter has eight beds for youth ages 16 up to 21, and is a certified New York State Office Of Children and Family Services facility.) http://www.hycwaithouse.org/ 518-798-4384