Monday, February 24, 2014

Five Ways to Help Your Heart

February is “American Heart Month." While February is also the month we celebrate Valentine's Day, think of flowers and all things dear to our heart; it's also a good time reflect on the health of our heart. Heart Disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. While any disease and its causes can be complex, here are five things you can do that may help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. 


Roses by Carole Jakucs. San Marino, CA. Image subject to copyright.

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes daily most days of the week. Consult with your doctor or health care provider before beginning any exercise program.
  • If you smoke, STOP! Smoking damages blood vessels which can lead to high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease in addition to raising your risk of developing Cancer and COPD.  
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh organic produce (vegetables and fruits), whole grains and lean protein. Follow a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats (trans fats are also known as "partially hydrogenated oils") salt and sugar (including high fructose corn syrup). Try to incorporate healthy monounsaturated fats in your diet such as olive oil. Following a Mediterranean diet is generally considered a heart healthy diet.
  • Monitor your blood pressure to keep it within the normal range which is generally considered 120/80 or lower. High blood pressure damages blood vessels setting the stage for heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. Consuming a healthy diet that is low is salt (sodium) and contains appropriate amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium and fiber also helps to control blood pressure. Incorporating these into your diet is part of what's known as the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension).
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your height and frame size. Obesity raises your risk of a wide range of illnesses and diseases.
*Contact your physician or health care provider for any questions or concerns you may have about your health.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cruelty at Copenhagen Zoo - A Poem for Marius the Murdered Giraffe

A Poem of Love for Marius the Murdered Giraffe by Carole Jakucs:

Shame on you Copenhagen Zoo.
And all other entities that do what you do.

A beautiful beast entrusted in your care.
Was shot and butchered in front of those who stared.

Was he sick or violent to deserve this brutal end?
No, his genes you said would not blend.

You could have easily sent him to another place.
To live his natural life in peace and with grace.

Your cruel act seen by the whole human race.
From which no explanation can save you face.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Fat and Fit is a Fantasy - Five Ways to Control Your Weight

Reports over the last few years have lead us to believe that carrying some extra weight was OK for some people if they still had normal readings for blood pressure, blood glucose levels and cholesterol.  This has now been proven to be wrong!

New medical research from Toronto revealed this week confirms that extra weight is indeed a threat to your health even if initially everything appears to be fine. Eventually, the extra weight can wreak havoc on your body and raise your risk for premature death. 

Don't let the sunset on your diet and exercise plan for any reason. Whether it's a holiday(s) or you're on vacation, try to resist the onslaught of temptations to overeat and and/or miss an exercise session. Here are five ways to help you control your weight.


 Sunset at El Porto. Manhattan Beach, CA. By Carole Jakucs. Image subject to copyright.
  1. Pay yourself first: No matter what you have scheduled, make time to exercise. If you usually exercise five days per week, try to maintain that schedule. You'll burn calories at your normal rate which will help prevent packing on pounds (as long as you don't start over eating). If you're on vacation, be sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes. If you're working long hours, be creative and look for a blocks of time to exercise.
  2. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and before and during special events such as parties. Doing so will help keep you full and prevent you from overeating. (Add a twist of lemon or lime for a refreshing taste).
  3. Don’t drink alcohol: Alcohol is loaded with empty calories (it has no nutritional value). The extra calories end up becoming extra fat on your body. If you decide to imbibe remember to drink in moderation and never drink and drive (don’t let others drink and drive either).
  4. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains each day to help keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable.  These foods also have a high nutritional value so are good for your health and help keep you slim. When you need fat or oil, use Omega 3 Fatty Acids on your foods when cooking and at the table such as olive oil and canola oil. These contain heart and brain healthy fats 
  5. Don't eat junk food. If you eliminate fatty chips, cookies, cakes, pies and fast foods, you'll help keep your overall fat and sugar intake in check. Remember that many commercially prepared foods contain high fructose corn syrup and trans fats, both of which are extremely unhealthy and contribute to the development of obesity, cardiovascular disease and Type II Diabetes. If you're baking for a holiday or special occasion, try using half the sugar in your recipes and replace shortening/butter with canola oil. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013

Remember, thank and support our Veterans (both past and present) today and every day for their sacrifices and service to our country. "Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure." - President Abraham Lincoln.


By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Dennis Cantrell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, November 7, 2013

6 Ways to Foil Fall Allergies

Most people think of spring as being the worst time for allergies. But fall allergies can be far worse for many people and can wreak havoc for allergy sufferers. Here are six tips that may help you lessen your symptoms.

Roses and walkway. Pasadena, California by Carole Jakucs. Image subject to copyright.
  1. Find and antihistamine that works for you: Everyone is different and what works for some may not work well for others. You’ll also want to consider side effects and try to identify the one that produces the least side effects for you. Follow the dosing instructions and read the alerts (contraindications) on the package.
  2. Keep your hair clean and free of dust, pollens and other irritants. If you spend time outside when counts are high, particles land on your hair. Shampoo it regularly to help lower the amount the sits on your hair.
  3. Consider nasal rinsing with sterile salt water: There are a number of different brands available (both name brand and generic) of sterile saline (salt water) rinses. These can help to reduce swelling in the nasal passages as well as rinse out mucus and irritating particles that can sit in your nose. Follow the package directions for frequency of use and for advice on when not to use. Talk to your doctor to see if this is right for you to do.
  4. Fresh air is great for your home or apartment but remember that outdoor particles do come in. Consider purchasing a HEPA air filter for at least your bedroom. And if you can have one in each room that may give you even more relief. Change the filters and operate the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Try to minimize your time outdoors if the pollen, grass, mold and weed counts are high.
  6. Car vents: Remember that the ventilation system in your car can hold all of the same particles that are floating in the air outside. If you are using forced air in your car, keep the windows open for at least the first five minutes it’s running to help them float back outside.
Taking a broad scope and proactive approach to fighting allergies may help to reduce your symptoms and reduce your need for medications. Talk to your doctor or health care provider for any concerns about your health.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Carrageenan – Another Food Additive that Can Make You Sick

Many of us try to eat a healthy diet; one that is “natural.” Some of us strive to eat foods that are truly “organic.” However, even something that is considered “organic” can cause you to feel ill. Carrageenan which comes from red seaweed, also known by the names of Chondrus crispus and Irish Moss, is considered an organic food additive, but has been scientifically proven to cause inflammation in the human body as well as cause mild to severe gastrointestinal symptoms in some individuals.  There has also been research linking consumption of carrageenan to the development of Cancer

Sunset at the El Segundo Beach by Carole Jakucs - Image subject to copyright.
Carrageenan is used in a variety of food and beverage products such as cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt, baby formula, beverages and so much more. Currently, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) allows it to be used in products labeled “organic."

Read you labels: If you don't want to consume carrageenan (even if you are buying an organic product) make sure you read your labels. It’s especially important to check your labels for carrageenan, if you are one who suffers from a sensitive gastrointestinal system, has a known GI disease or disorder and/or experiences GI symptoms (such as but not limited to, bloating and pain).

If you are experiencing any pain, or concerning symptoms, make sure to contact your doctor.   You may also want to check your diet for any sources of hidden carrageenan.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lyme disease is Underreported - Number of Cases is 10 times Higher than Previously Known

It’s great to spend time in the beautiful outdoors. But, when we do, we can be exposed to ticks and tick bites.  Bites from infected ticks can give you Lyme disease. The CDC just issued a Press Release stating that the actual number of cases of Lyme disease that occurs in the United States is approximately 300,000 per year; a number that is 10 times higher than the number of cases that are actually reported. The CDC culled their data from three different studies, analyzing the numbers of Lyme disease cases via insurance claims, laboratories and patient surveys.  If you've never thought about Lyme disease before, now may be a good time to start, given that it's more prevalent than previously thought. Lyme disease also occurs in parts of Europe.

Photo by Carole Jakucs; Kinsale, Cork, Ireland.
Image subject to copyright. 

  • Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected tick.
  • Initial symptoms can vary, but some are; fever, joint and muscle pain, rash and headache.
  • If Lyme disease is left untreated, permanent neurological (the nervous system) and organ damage (in particular the heart) can occur. It can also spread to the joints.
  • If you have any concern that you may have been exposed to Lyme disease, are sick with Lyme disease, or have any fevers, rashes or joint pain/swelling; speak to your healthcare provider and/or seek professional medical care for medical advice, a diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment. The sooner treatment is started, the better.
  • The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent becoming bitten by a tick. The tick carries the disease. When it bites you, it transmits the disease. 
  • If you plan on spending time outdoors (even at a picnic or in your back yard) in tick laden areas; wear insect repellent on your clothes, skin and gear. Look for products that contain either 20 – 30 % DEET. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use; since this is a poison, you want to use it correctly.
  • If you plan on being outdoors (even in your own backyard) or hiking, steer clear of high brush and weeds. If you're hiking, stay on the trails where your path is clear. High brush and weeds where tick like to hide.
  • Look for ticks on your skin, children’s skin, pets and gear after spending time outdoors.
  • If you find any ticks on your skin, clothes, pets or gear and remove them as soon as possible.
  • Remove ticks appropriately by following the right procedure, click here to view.
  • For more information on Lyme disease, you can also visit The American Lyme Disease Foundation's website

Monday, August 12, 2013

12 Tips on Sun Safety

Being aware of the dangers of too much sun exposure is important. The risks of too much sunlight and/or tanning bed exposure for your skin are: Skin cancer, sunburns and premature wrinkling/aging of the skin. Regardless of where you live or the season, the potential for overexposure is there. Here are twelve helpful tips to help protect you.

Photo by Carole Jakucs; view of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Image subject to copyright.
  1. Look for the words, “Broad Spectrum,” on the label of your sunscreen, for the fullest protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
  2. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more, 30 or more is better to prevent sunburns.
  3. Stay out of the sun between the hours of 10 AM to 4 PM when the sun is the strongest.
  4. Use a, “Water Resistant,” sunscreen.
  5. Reapply every hour, especially if you’re sweating or swimming because sunscreen wears off quickly when the skin is wet.
  6. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to all areas of skin that are exposed to the sun.
  7. Don’t forget to cover these spots too: The bottoms of your feet, back of your neck, ears cartilage and top of the head if you have any balding areas/hair loss.
  8. Remember your lips: Get a special sunscreen product formulated for the lips.
  9. A good brand of sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays will help to reduce your risk of developing cataracts.
  10. Wear a hat (with a brim) or sun-visor – to help cover your head and face in addition to sunscreen.
  11. Burns and sun damage to our skin occurs even on cloudy days so protect yourself from premature wrinkling, skin cancer and sunburns, even if it’s cloudy.
  12. If you’re prone to skin allergies, look for fragrance free or hypoallergenic sunscreen products to reduce your chances of an allergic reaction.

AddThis