Pregnant? You Need Vitamins

Brianne Anderson, MD, OB-GYN

While pregnant, eating healthy is one of the best things you can do for your baby. However, your body has a higher need for certain vitamins and minerals, like folate and calcium, during this time. Your doctor will prescribe prenatal vitamins to help your body meet these requirements.

Why Folate?

Folate is very important for the growth of your baby. It is most vital to get enough folate in the months before you get pregnant and in the early months of your pregnancy. When you get enough folate, it lowers the chances of your baby having birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

If you’re taking a prenatal vitamin, you probably get all the folate you need. But you can also get folate from food. Foods high in folate include:

  • Vegetables, especially brussels sprouts and green, leafy vegetables like spinach
  • Whole grains, enriched breads and fortified cereals
  • Fruits like bananas and oranges
  • Liver
  • Peas and beans

Why Calcium?

Calcium helps keep bones strong and healthy. When you’re pregnant, your baby takes calcium from your body to develop and grow bones. If you don’t get enough calcium, your bones could become weak. Prenatal vitamins have calcium, but you can get some from foods too. Milk and milk products are filled with calcium. Dark green, leafy vegetables, like broccoli, and sardines also are high in calcium.

As soon as you think you’re pregnant, see your doctor.

Call 504-897-7777 or visit to find a physician.

Dr. Brianne Anderson specializes in OB/GYN at Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro Infirmary. After earning her medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Dr. Anderson completed residency at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS. Dr. Anderson is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Anderson values the physician/patient relationship because she strives to understand what is important to her patients and become a confidant to guide them through varying stages of life.

Recipe Spotlight: Roasted Squash with Sea Salt & Local Honey

Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

Honey has been used as a natural sweetener for years. Today, local honey is still used to improve food and drinks, and many people also use it as a way to maintain good health. Raw, local honey contains many enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that your body needs — and it may even help prevent seasonal allergies. Plus, using local honey supports your neighborhood bee farmers. Just a couple tablespoons of honey are all that’s needed to sweeten this yummy roasted winter squash recipe.

Organic Baked Butternut Squash with Herbs and Spices


  • 4 to 5 pounds winter squash (use at least 2 varieties, such as acorn and butternut), seeded (but not peeled) and cut into 1-inch-thick slices or wedges
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey (use local honey, if possible)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey (use local honey, if possible)


  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two large shallow baking pans with foil; set aside. Place squash in a very large bowl; drizzle with oil and the 2 tablespoons honey. Using your fingertips, rub the oil and honey into the squash pieces to coat evenly. Sprinkle with the ¼ teaspoon sea salt and the pepper. Arrange the squash pieces in a single layer in the prepared baking pans.
  • Roast 30 to 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork or a small, sharp knife, turning the pieces once or twice during roasting.
  • Transfer squash to a serving platter. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and the ⅛ teaspoon sea salt. Drizzle with the 1 teaspoon honey. Serve warm with some lean protein and a salad for a complete holiday meal. 

Julie Fortenberry is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling.

Tips for Good Hand Hygiene

Leah Minsky, MPH

Happy National Handwashing Week! We’re full swing into flu season, so it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re washing up to stay well for all the holiday celebrations to come. Hand hygiene is the single most important thing you can do to maintain your health, adopting this habit now will play a major role for your quality of life now and in the future.

Washing your hands regularly with soap and water can protect you from many illnesses caused by viruses and bacteria. Washing removes germs you pick up when you touch people, animals, or surfaces. If not removed, these germs get into your eyes, nose, or mouth and cause illness.

It is important to wash your hands regularly throughout the day and it is essential to wash:

  • Before touching any food or eating
  • After using the bathroom
  • After handling animals or animal wastes

Effective Hand Washing Technique

Follow these five steps every time.

  • Wetyour hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Latheryour hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrubyour hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinseyour hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dryyour hands using a clean towel.

Handwashing in the Community

Studies consistently find that less than 60% of people practice hand hygiene after using the bathroom. After using the bathroom, the number of bacteria on our finger tips doubles. That means any person you come in contact with, or surface they’ve touched, can be contaminated with a host of viruses and bacteria that cause a bunch of nasty diseases. For children, handwashing has a huge impact on school absenteeism. When they consistently wash their hands, children miss about 24% fewer days due to respiratory illness and 50% fewer days due to upset stomach.

Children and Hand Hygiene

Children are particularly susceptible to serious infections that are spread by viruses and bacteria. Pneumonia, which can result from respiratory illness, is the number one cause of childhood death. Children have the tendency to put their hands in their mouths, so it is important to wash their hands regularly even if they are not feeding themselves. To wash a baby’s hands you should follow the same hand washing protocol you use for yourself: Lather soap with warm water, making sure to clean between their fingers and under their finger nails, and then dry completely with a clean paper or cloth towel.

Handwashing FAQ

How long do I actually have to wash my hands?

The short answer here is 15 seconds. The CDC recommends 20 seconds. The effectiveness of washing your hands depends on how dirty your hands are and how well you lather and scrub. If you have to make a choice it’s better to scrub vigorously for 15 seconds than lightly for 20 seconds.

How should I dry my hands?

Damp hands are significantly more likely (about 1000 times more likely) to spread leftover viruses and bacteria than hands that are properly dried after washing. Make sure you are using a single use towel to completely dry your hands. It does not make a difference if you dry your hands with a cloth or paper towel as long as it has not been used before.

What about hand sanitizer?

Hand sanitizer is a good option if your hands aren’t visibly soiled with dirt or other substances. Make sure you cover all of your hands and allow the sanitizer to dry without wiping or rinsing it off.

What do I get from washing my hands?

You will avoid every 5th respiratory infection if you habitually wash your hands. That means 20% fewer colds throughout your life. That 20 seconds at the sink can save you a week in bed.

Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season

Meredith Maxwell, M.D., M.H.A.

The holiday season is a great time for enjoying decadent meals and holiday cheer. Unfortunately, for many of us, it also becomes a time for over-eating and weight gain. In fact, the average American gains 5- 10 pounds during the holiday season. Here are a few tips on how to eat mindfully and not overindulge.

What are ways to be realistic this holidays season when it comes to being healthy?

  • Don’t try to lose pounds during the holidays, instead try to maintain your current weight.
  • Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain.
  • A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. Try 10- or 15-minute brisk walks twice a day.
  • Try to not put all of your focus on food – remember, the holidays are a great time to slow down and catch up with your family and friends.

What should you do before heading out to a holiday party?

  • Don’t skip meals or snacks earlier in the day to “save” calories for your large feast later on. If you arrive somewhere feeling hungry, you are more likely to overeat.
  • Before leaving, eat a light snack to help curb your appetite.

What are tips to not overindulge this holiday season?

  • Focus on your loved ones instead of food. Go hiking with your family, play board games, or go to the movies to watch the latest holiday movie.
  • Eat slowly and savor the foods that you would only have once or twice a year.
  • Make sure your portions are reasonable and try to resist going back for seconds.
  • Also, drink alcohol in moderation.

If you are bringing a dish, what are ways to prepare a healthy holiday meal?

  • When making desserts, substitute whole-wheat flour for regular flour in a recipe.
  • Substitute bananas and applesauce for fat. And use natural sweeteners such as shredded carrots, zucchini or beets to cut down on sugar.
  • Make small desserts to aid with portion control.

However, if there is a dish that you love so much around the holidays, such as a family recipe, make it! The original version will make you happy. However, enjoy a small serving to satisfy your craving.

What happens if you overindulge on a holiday party?

  • If you overindulge, it’s okay! Don’t consider yourself a failure if you eat more food than you anticipated. Get back on track with your healthy eating habits the next day.


Meredith Maxwell, M.D., M.H.A., attended the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, where she completed her family medicine residency, before joining the Touro Infirmary Health System. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine Diplomate.

Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

The Touro Infirmary Foundation

With the end of the calendar year fast approaching, we find ourselves on the doorstep of the holiday season, one marked by a distinct spirit of giving. This is a time to celebrate our loved ones by giving them personal and thoughtful gifts, but it is also a time to give back to our community. Empowering others to pay it forward is very important to us here at the Touro Infirmary Foundation, so we offer you a few ways to express your gratitude to our New Orleans community that will make an impact and ensure that we start off on the right foot as we walk together into the new year.

Food Bank Volunteering

Food has the distinct ability to bring people together, especially during the holiday season. Help others share the happiness that comes from a meal served with love by volunteering your time to a local food bank. Check out organizations such as Second Harvest Food Bank or New Orleans Food Pantry. Any type of volunteering during is impactful and not just during the holidays. If food bank volunteering is not for you, considering volunteering at a hospital such as Touro Infirmary.

Toy Donation

Here’s a way to give back, while also cleaning out your children’s toy chest! There are countless organizations around the city that accept new and gently used toy donations, and what better way to show that you care while putting smiles on the faces of our community’s youngest residents?  Consider donating to Children’s Hospital.

Nursing Homes

Offer both your presents, and your presence to a nursing home in your area. Help with meal distribution, hang decorations, and chat with residents to make them feel included and cared for by fellow members of their community. Consider volunteering at Woldenberg Village by contacting Rita Austin at 504-367-5640.


Time is always a gift to those who receive it. Since time is a luxury and not always available, financial gift giving in any amount is another option to give back this time of year. The age old saying that “no amount is too small” is truer today than ever. Friend raising and micro giving are making great impacts in people’s lives all over the world. Consider supporting the Touro Infirmary Foundation this Giving Tuesday. Donations to the Touro Infirmary Foundation support the purchase of vital equipment, help fight transportation barriers for cancer care patients, support new parents with education classes, and so much more. Visit and direct your donation to an area of healthcare that is meaningful to you.

While exchanging gifts with your loved ones can be a wonderful holiday tradition, nothing can compare to the feeling of joy you get from giving back. We hope you are inspired to get involved in your community this season, and wish you Happy Holidays from our Touro Infirmary family!


Recipe Spotlight: Roasted Winter Squash Soup


2 acorn squash
2 garlic cloves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 small raw onions
1/2 cup white wine
8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. bay leaf, crumbled
1/3 cup cider vinegar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half, remove seeds and roast cut side down with garlic and thyme inside. Roast squash for about 60 minutes or until soft.

Scoop out flesh and set aside, along with the garlic and thyme. Add olive oil to a pan set over medium-high heat; add onions and roasted garlic and sauté until soft. Add scooped squash to pan and stir, then add wine to deglaze. Reduce heat slightly and add broth and bay leaf, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and purée in a food processor; season with pepper and cider vinegar to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves four. Each serving contains about 220 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 280 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 6 g sugar, and 2 g protein.

Be Antibiotics Aware

Lonzie Beamon, Jr, PharmD, BCPS
Clinical Pharmacist, Touro Infirmary

Antibiotics are very powerful medicines that can cure and prevent infections.  Unfortunately, their power has waned over the last few decades thanks to our overuse.  Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise.  Two million people are infected with antimicrobial-resistant bacteria each year and several thousand people die from them.  While newer antibiotics are now available, bacteria can develop resistance to those as well.  What’s worse is bacteria can spread this resistance to others, creating an infection with very few treatment options.  Bacteria become resistant to antimicrobials by pumping them out, breaking them down with enzymes, or changing the antimicrobial’s target so it remains unaffected by the drug.  Here are a few things you can do to be antibiotics aware and reduce the risk of creating resistant bacteria:

  1. Wash your hands as often as possible, especially if you are sick! Proper handwashing can reduce your chances of getting an infection in the first place or of spreading infection if you already are.  When washing your hands, use soap and warm water.  Vigorously scrub your hands together.  Be sure to scrub each finger and between them, the backs of your hands, the palms, and the wrists.  Do this for at least 30 seconds.  Afterward, dry your hands with a paper towel and turn your faucet off with that same towel (bacteria might be on its surface).
  2. Use hand gel if there is no sink around! Alcohol-based gels are great for disinfecting your hands.  For best results, use a gel that contains at least 60% alcohol to kill any bacteria that might be lurking on your hands.  Keep in mind that some bacteria are resistant to alcohol-based gels so hand-washing if possible is always the better option.  Sometimes hand gels may cause your skin to become dry and irritated.  If this happens to you, try a hand gel that contains moisturizers to prevent dry skin.
  3. If you are sick, see your doctor or healthcare provider as soon as you can! You primary care provider can tell you whether or not you have a contagious infection and should stay away from others to prevent the spread of infection.  If you are coughing, sneezing, have a sore throat, or feel body aches all over, you should pay a visit to your primary care provider.
  4. If you have a virus like the flu, DO NOT TAKE ANTIBIOTICS!!! This is one of the worst things you can do because the virus is unaffected by the antibiotic and the antibiotic can affect good bacteria in your body that keep the bad bacteria in check.  Antibiotics, while they are very safe and effective at what they do, should only be used when needed.  Some antibiotics can lead to harmful side effects and taking them too long may increase the risk of developing a Clostridium difficile  This is especially true for nursing home and hospitalized patients.
  5. If you DO have an infection, finish your antibiotics! You might be feeling better; but, that doesn’t mean the infection is gone.  If you don’t finish your full course of antibiotics, resistant bacteria may not be caught by your immune system and could spread resistance genes to other bacteria, resulting in a drug-resistant infection.
  6. Don’t share your antibiotics! Some antibiotics target bacteria that cause respiratory infections while others may target bacteria that cause urinary tract infections.  Using the wrong type of antibiotic for the wrong infection may not treat the infection if one is present and could further lead to antimicrobial resistance.  Antibiotics may also cause an allergic reaction in some people and someone may not know they are allergic to the type of antibiotic you had.  So if someone asks you to share your antibiotics, just say no.  That person should see a primary care provider.
  7. Know the difference between a side effect and an allergy! A side effect is an expected reaction to a drug that is not caused by your body’s immune system.  Nausea, vomiting, headache, and other effects like this are not signs of allergy; but they can be uncomfortable.  Saying that you are allergic to an antibiotic might cause your primary care provider to use a different antibiotic that may not be the best choice and could lead to antimicrobial resistance.  However, reactions like hives and swelling of the tongue, throat, or face are signs of an allergic reaction and you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience these while taking antibiotics.  You should list drugs that cause allergic reactions so your primary care provider knows not to prescribe them to you.

Great American Smokeout

Neil Ninan, MD

November 15, 2018 is the Great American Smokeout! The American Cancer Society marks this day annually to encourage smokers to make a plan to quit, or if a plan is in place, to actually stop smoking that day.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States.  Cigarette smoking increases the risk of cancers of the mouth and throat, lung, esophagus, pancreas, cervix, kidney, bladder, stomach, colon, rectum, and liver, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. Some studies also link smoking to breast cancer and advanced-stage prostate cancer.  Smoking also greatly increases the risk of debilitating, long-term lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It raises the risk for heart attack, stroke, blood vessel diseases, and eye diseases. Half of all smokers who keep smoking will eventually die from a smoking-related illness.

Kick Your Smoking Habit

No matter how old you are or how long you’ve smoked, quitting can help you live a longer and healthier lifestyle. According to the American Cancer Society, compared to smokers, people who stop smoking before age 50 cut in half their risk of dying in the next 15 years. Former smokers enjoy a higher quality of life with fewer illnesses from cold and flu viruses, reduced rates of bronchitis and pneumonia and better overall health.

With all the benefits of quitting smoking in mind, overcoming the obstacle of addiction is not easy to do.  The most important first step is to make a commitment to end your smoking habit. The next step involves getting the support and resources you need to be successful.

Some keys to succeeding at quitting the smoking habit are:

  • Quitting alone is hard to do. Joining a smoking cessation program or support group is beneficial and necessary for many people. Family and friends can also help you stay on the right path.
  • Support: ask your doctor about methods that can help you quit such as classes, medication or counseling.
  • Call for help: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a free Quit Now hotline. 1-800-QUIT-NOW
  • Nicotine-replacement therapy: gums, lozenges or patches are beneficial for many people.
  • De-stress: Find new ways to let out stress and relax, such as exercise or listening to music. Exercise can also help curve nicotine cravings.
  • Avoid triggers such as alcohol or coffee.
  • Financial benefits: keep in mind the other enjoyable things you could be doing with money saved.
  • If you fail, try again!

Click here to access Touro’s online smoking cessation health library for more tools and resources to help you quit.

If you kick your smoking habit now, you’ll enjoy a better quality of life and more years to live it. Stick with it, make that commitment and seek the support you need to be successful.

Neil Ninan, MD specializes in Pulmonary Disease and Interventional Pulmonology. Interventional pulmonology is a relatively new specialty in pulmonary medicine. Interventional pulmonology uses endoscopy and other tools to diagnose and treat conditions in the lungs and chest.

Health Screenings to Help Women Prevent Disease

Don’t let heart disease, stroke and other health conditions sneak up on you. Instead, prevent them by seeing your doctor for a yearly well-woman checkup. At your checkup, your doctor will likely suggest health screenings. These tests can help spot potentially deadly conditions before they become life-threatening. Here are six screenings that can help you stay healthy.

Blood pressure

Nearly half of all Americans older than age 20 have chronic high blood pressure— 130/80 mmHg or greater. Getting your blood pressure checked and changing your lifestyle or using medication, if necessary, can reduce your risk for stroke and heart disease.


This simple blood test—after an overnight fast— measures levels of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol and LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, as well as triglycerides. These fats iny our blood can affect your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Pap test

This test, as part of a pelvic exam, takes a sample of cells from the cervix to check for cervical cancer. Women ages 21 to 29 should get a Pap test every three years. Women ages 30 to 65 should get screened every three to five years. Cervical cancer and the beginning stages of the disease are treatable if caught early.


This breast X-ray can find breast cancer in its early, most treatable stages. Talk with your doctor about the schedule and imaging that are right for you.

Blood glucose

This simple blood test helps detect type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, which can increase the risk for heart disease and other complications. It’s recommended for adults ages 40 to 70 who are overweight.


The doctor will examine your colon, looking for signs of cancer and small growths that can become cancerous, which can be removed during the test. Experts recommend people at average risk should get a colonoscopy every 10 years, starting at age 45.


At Touro, our doctors go above and beyond to meet patients’ needs, because we know we’re not just treating an illness, we’re treating a person. Whether you have a bad cold or something more serious, a Touro doctor in your neighborhood is ready to listen to, comfort and care for you. Find your Touro doctor today at or by calling 504-897-7777.

Fighting for a Cure

From our family to yours, thank you for going pink!

Thank you to everyone who joined us this month in our fight to raise breast cancer awareness and for going Pink.

Pink Cocktail Social

Pink Cocktail Social

Pampered and Pink

Pampered and Pink

Pampered and Pink

Additionally, thank you to those who participated in, fundraised for, or volunteered for this year’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Team Touro continues to grow with participation from all of our staff and family members. Below are a few pictures from the race day.

We hope that you continue the conversation about breast health and breast cancer all year long. Touro Infirmary remains a long standing partner in helping you to achieve healthy breast care. Please join us next October as we continue our fight.