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.

Maxwell-Meredith-2015

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.

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.

Cholesterol

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.

Mammogram

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.

Colonoscopy

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.

STAY HEALTHY ALL YEAR LONG

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 touro.com/findadoc or by calling 504-897-7777.

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites

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

Summer is a beloved time for relaxation and family vacations. But there are some all-to-familiar annoyances about Louisiana summers that aren’t so popular – at the top of the list mosquitoes. If not careful, mosquitoes can expose you to diseases. Here are the best ways to protect yourself from mosquitos to ensure a safe and fun summer ahead!

What are mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are widely known as one of the most dangerous animals. They are insects that feed off of human blood. When a mosquito bites you, it injects saliva into the bloodstream that causes an allergic reaction for many humans. The saliva causes an itchy, red bump at the site of the bite. However, a small bump can be the least of your worries when mosquitos can be carriers of the West Nile virus, Zika and Malaria. These pests tend to flock to warm climates and are prevalent near sitting water. Mosquitoes are rampant in the southern region of the United States, so southerners beware of these carriers!

How can you protect yourself from mosquito bites?

Although they can be scary and irritating, bug bites can be easily prevented. Before you do any outdoor activities, make sure you use bug spray or repellent. It is recommended to use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents, which are proven safe and effective. Your spray should include DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) as an active ingredient. Pregnant and breasfeeding women should check with their providers before using these products.

Dress children in clothes that cover their arms and legs. It is also recommended to cover strollers or cribs in mosquito netting. However, do not use insect repellent on babies under 2 months old.

How can you protect the inside of your home?

To kill mosquitos inside the home, it is recommended to use an indoor insect fogger or indoor insect spray to treat areas where they rest. These products work immediately, and may need to be reapplied. When using insecticides, always follow label directions. Only using insecticide will not keep your home free of mosquitoes. You should also install or repair window and door screens. You should also use air conditioning when possible and keep doors closed.

How can you protect the outside of your home?

Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture or in garages. Once a week, you should empty and scrub any items that hold water like buckets or planters. Mosquitoes like to lay eggs near water. Therefore, you should tightly cover water storage containers so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.

Click here for 5 tips to fend off mosquitoes all summer long!

Click here to test your knowledge on mosquito-borne diseases.


Maxwell-Meredith-2015

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.

Opioid Prescriptions: 6 Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Christopher Lege, MD – Internal Medicine, Crescent City Physicians, a subsidiary of Touro

Misuse of opioid medications to relieve pain has become a national epidemic. An estimated 48 Americans die of a prescription opioid overdose every day. These powerful pain medications have their place. When misused, however, opioids can lead to addiction, overdose or death. If the medication your doctor suggests is an opioid, like codeine or oxycodone, ask these questions before you head to the pharmacy:

  1. Are there any nonopioid treatment options?

Opioids aren’t the first-choice treatment for many kinds of pain. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Other options may include injections, physical therapy, and exercise.

  1. If I need an opioid, how long should I take it?

Ask your doctor to prescribe the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. For short-term pain (such as pain after surgery or a serious sports injury), a short-term prescription should do. For long-lasting issues (such as arthritis or chronic back pain), nonopioid treatments may be safer and more effective.

  1. Could the opioid interact with my other medications?

Review all your prescription or over-the-counter medicines with your doctor, even those you take occasionally. It’s important to mention anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxants, seizure medications and sleeping pills.

  1. What if I have a history of drug or alcohol problems?

Talk with your doctor about problems you’ve had with drugs, alcohol or smoking. Also, tell your doctor if someone in your family has a history of substance abuse. Addiction runs in families.

  1. Where should I keep my opioid medication?

If you spend time with children or young adults, consider keeping opioid medication in a lockbox. For children, an accidental overdose can quickly turn fatal. For teens, easy access to opioids may sometimes lead to misuse.

  1. What are some danger signs?

Learn to recognize serious side effects of opioids, such as excessive sleepiness and cravings for more of the drug. You and your family should know when to call the doctor or 911.

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Dr. Christopher Lege specializes in Internal Medicine at Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro Infirmary. After earning his medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Dr. Lege completed his residency at Tulane Medical Center. He is the Chief Medical Officer for Crescent City Physicians and Touro’s Internal Medicine Division Director. Dr. Lege values the physician/patient relationship because he enjoys educating patients to help keep them healthy and focusing his practice on preventative care.

Breathe Better: Asthma Relief Tips

Meredith Maxwell, M.D.

Asthma affects more than 24 million people in the United States. There are plenty of medications on the market that can help relieve symptoms after an asthma attack.

However, avoiding triggers is key in managing asthma.

Triggers irritate sensitive airways, making it hard to breathe. There are plenty of natural ways to help you breathe better. The first is identifying common triggers, which includes allergens, irritants, other health problems, exercise, medicines, and stress.

Allergies

  • Dust. Dust is the most common year-round allergen. Dust mites are found in mattresses, carpets, and upholstered furniture. They live best in warm, humid conditions. The best way to prevent allergy symptoms caused by dust mites is to limit your exposure. Pay special attention to the bedroom where you spend a lot of your time. Install dust mite covers on your mattress, box spring, and pillows.
  • Pollens. If you are allergic to pollen, keep all car and house windows closed and use air conditioning during pollen season. If you are outdoors, shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes when you go inside.
  • Pets. Pets that have fur or feathers cause allergies for many people. Some people with pets are not able to keep them because of their allergies. If you do have pets, wash your hands after petting them. Be sure to keep them off your bed and out of your bedroom. Also, have someone brush and bathe your pet regularly.
  • Mold and mildew. These can trigger asthma. When outside, avoid damp and shady areas. Use exhaust fans when cooking or bathing. Keep indoor humidity below 45%. Also, clean your dehumidifier regularly.

Exercise

Even though exercise is a common asthma trigger, you should not stop exercising unless directed by your physician. Exercise is good for your health and your lungs. Activities such as swimming, golf, and yoga are good choices for persons with asthma. Always warm-up before exercise and cool down at the end of exercise.

Irritants

If you smoke, quit. When a person inhales tobacco smoke, irritating substances settle in the moist lining of the airways. These substances can cause an asthma attack. Secondhand smoke is also a common asthma attack trigger. Also, avoid strong perfumes, cleaning products, fresh paint, and other strong odors.

Medicines

Some medicines can worsen asthma symptoms. These medicines include aspirin, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and beta-blockers used to treat heart disease and high blood pressure. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your asthma history and use of these medicines.

Stress

Emotional stress can trigger asthma symptoms. There are ways to learn how to better manage your emotions. Meditation practice can help you learn breathing techniques to reduce your stress on the spot. The slow, deep breathing method used during mediation can cause relaxation and reduce hyperventilation.

Other Asthma Relief tips:

  • Use a HEPA air filter for the bedroom.
  • Try to stay indoors whenever the pollen count is really high (pollen counts usually peak in the mornings).
  • Wash your bedding and rugs in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) to eliminate dust mites and other allergens.
  • Vacuum twice a week. Wear a mask because vacuuming can kick up pollen, mold, and dust that were trapped in your carpet.
  • Also wear a mask when you mow your lawn to keep grass pollen out of your nose.
  • Wash your car once a week.

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. Dr. Maxwell chose family medicine because she gets to see patients of all ages and the whole family.

 

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The Joy of Mindful Eating for a Healthy Weight

Ulrika Midner, RDN, LDN, CNSC

We all know what hunger feels like. It’s that sting in the stomach that makes us immediately think about food. We also know that if we do not eat, this feeling intensifies and also can come with side effects like irritability, brain fog, and dizziness.

So what triggers this hunger feeling? There is quite a bit of research going on in this field and the most interesting area right now is a hormone called ghrelin and a receptor called GHSR-1A.

Bear with me for some technical parts here that I will try to simplify. There is an idea that our gut is using hormones to signal the need for food in order to survive. Ghrelin is a hormone that circulates in our bodies and the levels vary depending on our current need for energy. If we are low on energy, Ghrelin will increase make us move around to “hunt” for food. Ghrelin also needs a receptor called GHSR-1A to be able to signal hunger and stimulate food intake.

Ghrelin levels in your body vary with your food intake and how much energy you currently have stored. The Ghrelin level will rise before mealtime and give you a hunger sensation. This will make your brain anticipate food and will further stimulate a feeling of reward. As you eat, the Ghrelin levels start to decrease along your feeling of hunger. This is due to Leptin, a different hormone that reduces hunger. It is secreted by the fat tissue and it is believed that the more fat tissue we have, the more leptin is produced. So how come you can be overweight and hungry you might wonder? It is believed that in overweight people, the receptors in the hypothalamus (a part of your brain) for leptin become defective and the hunger is not suppressed by the leptin anymore.

Insulin is another hormone that has the ability to suppress hunger by stimulating triacylglycerols in fat tissue which then releases leptin.

So how do we achieve a healthy weight when we are in the hands of our hormones?

Our bodies are designed to keep homeostasis which means balance. However, this balance system can be overridden by ‘pleasure signals’. Meaning, we will eat for pleasure instead of the need for energy. This is how we overeat and become overweight.

By adopting healthy eating behavior, what I would like to call Mindful Eating, you can “coach” yourself a healthy eating pattern and still enjoy eating.

We rarely think about the environment we eat in, how fast we eat, what our food looks like, and what the food items on our plate will do for our bodies. Food could be medicine!

One of the first steps would be to ask yourself why you are eating. The answer to this could be different at different times. Many of us eat for many more reasons than being hungry and needing energy. Think about if you eat because of boredom, emotions such as being sad or happy, feeling stressed, or maybe loneliness. Ask yourself, am I really hungry? By eating when you feel sad or stressed but do not need energy you trigger the pleasure signals and they override the sadness or stress for that moment. It is a short term fix that set you up for unnecessary weight gain and health issues.

Eating too fast will also set you up for overeating. When you put food in your mouth you instantly get satisfaction from your taste buds, but your brain does not receive any signaling of being full until the food starts to be digested and absorbed in the stomach. This may take up to 20 minutes. If you eat very fast you can consume many more calories than what your body actually need before you feel full. These calories will be stored in your body and contribute to more weight gain.

Other steps to embrace in Mindful Eating are to sit down in a calm environment, clear distractions and focus on the eating. Turn off the computer and the TV. Put down the cell phone. Talk to your family about the day. Put your fork down between bites and chew thoroughly. This helps your digestion. Take sips of your choice of drink; do not gulp it down, especially if your drink contains calories. Look at the food and appreciate different colors and think about what your meal will do for your health. Take pauses and assess your fullness feeling. You should stop eating before you feel overly full. You should feel comfortable after a meal. Make your food pleasurable for your eyes by incorporating many colors. This will actually help making your meal more nutritious.

Click here for healthy recipes.

Click here to learn more about mindfulness.

Join me for a Living Well: The Joy of Mindful Eating seminar for more information on how you make your food habits healthy and help you achieve a healthy weight on Thursday, May 24 from 12pm to 1pm in the Coliseum Room!

Click here for more information about the seminar or to register.

Ulrika is a clinical dietitian and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician providing medical nutrition therapy for both inpatients and outpatients at Touro. She graduated from Nicholls State University and completed her internship at Tulane University. Ulrika is also the President-Elect for the New Orleans Dietetic Association.

Staying Healthy at Work

Raghav Nehru, M.D.

Sick days are no vacation. Americans spend most of their time at work, and it’s easy to get sick or catch a virus in close quarters. Viruses can live up to 2 hours or more on hard surfaces, such as doorknobs, your desk or telephone. If you then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose before washing your hands, the viruses or bacteria can cause an infection. Here are 5 things you can do to prevent yourself and coworkers from getting sick.

1. Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer on your desk or with you at all times. After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose, wash your hands or rub sanitizer into them until they are dry. Clean your hands after using public transportation or conference room equipment.

When soap and water aren’t available, use alcohol-based throwaway hand wipes or gel sanitizers. Those that work contain at least 60% alcohol. If using a gel, rub it into your hands until they are dry. Moreover, don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands.

2. Keep your work surface clean. Use a household disinfectant to wipe down your desk, keyboard, mouse, telephone, and other objects you touch often. Follow the directions on the label. Also, keep tissues on your desk, and cough or sneeze into a tissue. If possible, don’t use coworkers’ offices, desks, or supplies. If you must use them, wipe them down with disinfectant first.

3. Take a proactive approach to your health. Get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available in your area. It is very important to continue scheduling your regular wellness visits. During these visits, you should feel free to discuss any of your concerns, such as sexual health and any domestic or interpersonal violence with your health care provider. You should also ensure that you get your blood pressure checked and that you are up-to-date with your immunizations.

4. Stay at home if you feel sick. Stay home if you have flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, chills, cough or sore throat. Other symptoms include runny nose, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting. Contact your healthcare provider to find out whether you should be tested or treated for the flu.

You should stay at home until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Also, if you have a family member who has the flu but you feel well, check with your healthcare provider to see if it is safe to go to work.

5. Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet! It is recommended to drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. There are plenty of food that are good sources of water as well like watermelon, oranges and apples.

It’s also important to start your day with a healthy breakfast. It’s okay to wait an hour or two before eating. Make sure to schedule in a time to eat if you will be at work or busy with errands. The key is to plan your breakfast. If your office always has doughnuts or muffins in the morning, try talking to your coworkers or managers about changing this! Maybe you can convince the office to order healthier items like a fruit tray.

You can also compromise by keeping the food in the break room or conference room. People often make healthier decisions when the unhealthy choice is out of sight. Lastly, try to bring a healthy a lunch to work instead of buying lunch off the dollar menu. You will consume less calories and save money.

Click here to learn more ways of staying healthy at work in Touro’s Health Library.

Dr. Raghav Nehru specializes in Internal Medicine at Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro Infirmary. After earning his medical degree from Ross University in Dominica, Dr. Nehru completed residency at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Nehru values the patient/physician relationship as it is the foundation of medical care. He has special interest in preventive care and empowering patients to live a healthier lifestyle.