CityBeat Blogs - Wellness <![CDATA[First Northern Kentucky Flu Death]]> The Northern Kentucky Health Department just received report of the area's first seasonal flu death this flu season. A middle-aged Kenton County man, with a history of chronic health problems, died from complications of the flu.

“The loss of someone to the flu is a tragedy, and our thoughts go out to the individual’s family,” Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, district director of health, writes in a press release. “We tend to forget just how serious influenza can be, particularly for those with other health problems. Flu can lead to serious complications and even death, as it did in this case.”

While the CDC doesn't track adult flu deaths, they estimate 6.5 percent of all adult deaths nationwide were attributable to the flu or complications from the flu for the week ending Dec. 28. And Kentucky is reporting widespread flu activity, particularly a strain (H1N1) that disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults, according to Saddler.

The CDC recommends the following precautions to avoid getting the flu:

1. Get a flu vaccine. If you're over 65, also get a pneumonia vaccination.

2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (and then throw it away).

3. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleanser after you cough or sneeze.

4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

5. Avoid sick people.

While the flu is commonly treated at home, these symptoms require immediate medical attention.

For children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

For adults:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness or confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
For more information on flu, visit

<![CDATA[Cincinnati "Lucky 13" in Fittest U.S. City Ranking]]>

The American College of Sports Medicine just released their annual "American Fitness Index," ranking the health and community fitness levels of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. And Cincinnati is ranked 13, beating out more stereotypically health-conscious cities such as San Diego, LA and Miami. (Who needs a beach and when you have so many hills?) 

The index was calculated by compiling data on each city's preventative health behaviors, levels of chronic disease, health care access and community resources/policies that support physical activity based on publicly available info from studies and federal reports, including the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

According to the ACSM, "Communities with the highest AFI scores are considered to have strong community fitness, a concept analogous to individuals having strong personal fitness." 

And now for the rankings:

  1. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.: 78.2
  2. Washington, D.C.: 77.7
  3. Portland, Ore.: 69.8
  4. San Francisco, Calif.: 68.7
  5. Denver, Colo.: 68.1
  6. Boston, Mass.: 67.1
  7. Sacramento, Calif.: 66.8
  8. Seattle, Wash.: 66.7
  9. Hartford, Conn.: 66.6
  10. San Jose, Calif.: 66.4
  11. Austin, Texas: 63.6 
  12. Salt Lake City, Utah: 62.5
  13. Cincinnati, Ohio: 61.4
  14. San Diego, Calif.: 61.3
  15. Raleigh, N.C.: 60.3
  16. Pittsburgh, Pa.: 59.9
  17. Baltimore, Md.: 59.5
  18. Virginia Beach, Va.: 58.3
  19. Cleveland, Ohio: 55.1
  20. Richmond, Va.: 55.1
  21. Atlanta, Ga.: 53.6
  22. Providence, RI: 53.5
  23. Buffalo, NY: 53.2
  24. New York-Northern New Jersey, Long Island: 52.1
  25. Philadelphia, Pa.: 51.2
  26. Milwaukee, Wisc.: 51.2
  27. Chicago, Ill.: 50.8
  28. Kansa City, Miss.: 50.4
  29. Los Angeles, Calif.: 48.3
  30. Columbus, Ohio: 48.1
  31. Saint Louis, Miss.: 47.1
  32. Nashville, Tenn.: 44.5
  33. Phoenix, Ari.: 44.0
  34. Orlando, Fla.: 42.5
  35. Riverside, Calif.: 42.5
  36. Charlotte, N.C.: 42.2
  37. Jacksonville, Fla.: 41.8
  38. New Orleans, La.: 41.6
  39. Las Vegas, Nev.: 41.6
  40. Tampa, Fla.: 40.1
  41. Birmingham, Ala.: 39.0
  42. Miami, Fla.: 38.4
  43. Houston, Texas: 38.3
  44. Dallas, Texas: 37.4
  45. Indianapolis, Ind.: 36.8
  46. Memphis, Tenn.: 36.0
  47. Louisville, Ky.: 35.2
  48. San Antonio, Texas: 35.1
  49. Detroit, Mich.: 33.6
  50. Oklahoma City, Okla.: 31.2 

<![CDATA[Help Feed Kids through Public Radio]]>

With the unemployment rate at near-record highs, about 70 percent of Cincinnati Public School students either receive free or reduced-cost lunches, indicating the dire need of local families. To help ensure as many children as possible have enough food to eat when not at school, Cincinnati Public Radio has partnered with two organizations to make donations go farther.

Every pledge made Friday to WVXU (91.7 FM) or WGUC (90.9 FM) will feed four Cincinnati children through Childhood Food Solutions and Green B.E.A.N. Delivery.---

“We’re donating oranges for every CFS Food Sack to help supplement students’ nutrition through the holiday break,” said Matt Ewer, founder of Green B.E.A.N. Delivery. “The community of Cincinnati is lucky to have an organization like CFS working every day on creating solutions to address food insecurity and hunger relief.”

CFS Food Sacks are delivered to families living in poverty-stricken areas, where many children rely heavily on the meals they eat at school. Food Sacks will contain a variety of products to help ensure proper nutrition through winter break.

"We’re banding together because thousands of children in Cincinnati are faced with hunger insecurity,” said Tony Fairhead, director of CFS. “These kids receive Food Sacks for weekends and vacation breaks so they can come back to school and focus on learning, not that they are hungry.”

Donations may be made to WVXU by visiting or calling 513-419-7155, while donations may be made to WGUC by visiting or calling 513-241-5757.

For more information about Childhood Food Solutions and Food Sacks, visit

<![CDATA[Free Cardiac Screenings Offered]]> With so many people laid off or fired these days, one of the worse consequences is some have lost their health insurance. As a result, they are foregoing routine medical care and testing they might otherwise receive to warn of potential problems.

When the Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners & Nurse Midwives holds its annual convention later this month in Covington, participants will offer free advanced cardiac risk assessment screenings to the public.---

The screenings will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon on April 22. They will be done at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center’s Exhibit Hall 2 (street level), 1 W. RiverCenter Blvd.

The event is open to anyone age 18 and older. No advance or pre-registration is required.

Procedures that will be conducted are checking vital signs like blood pressure, pulse and respiration; taking a cardiac physical; checking cholesterol levels; conducting a complete cardiac screening history; and performing EKGs for those people identified as needing one.

Anyone seeking cholesterol testing should fast for 12 hours prior to the test; drinking water or black coffee is allowed.

Once the screening is performed, results will be tallied and discussed with each participant including information on how they may be able to reduce their risk for heart disease.  Participants can take their screening information with them to share with their own health care providers if they choose.

For more information, contact Nurse Dottie Baker at 859-992-4756 or via e-mail at

<![CDATA[Keeping Animals Safe in Winter]]>

With Greater Cincinnati’s worst storm of the season fast approaching and much of the nation already covered in snow, PETA is offering tips about how to keep animals safe in cold weather — along with a little help from Country singer Loretta Lynn.

Although they are naturally equipped with fur coats, dogs and other animals still can suffer from frostbite and exposure, and they can become dehydrated when water sources freeze.---

PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — offers the following tips:

** Keep animals inside. This is especially important to remember when it comes to puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals, and dogs with short hair. Also, short-haired animals will benefit from using a sweater or coat while on walks

** Don't allow cats or dogs to roam freely outdoors. During winter, cats sometimes climb under the hoods of cars to be near warm engines and are badly injured or killed when the car is started. Also, food rations for animals should be increased in winter because they are burning more calories to keep warm

** Keep an eye out for stray animals. Take unidentified animals inside until you can find their guardians or get them to an animal shelter. If strays are skittish or otherwise unapproachable, provide food and water and call your local Humane Society for assistance in trapping them and getting them indoors

** Wipe off your dogs' or cats' legs, feet, and stomachs after they come in from the snow. Salt and other chemicals can make your animals sick if they ingest them while cleaning themselves.

** When you see dogs left outdoors, provide them with proper shelter. Details on how to provide housing can be found at

Web users can view PETA's cold-weather public service announcement featuring the song "I Wanna Be Free," donated by Loretta Lynn.

<![CDATA[This Is Why You're Fat]]>

Over the past several months, Senate leaders have been contemplating imposing an obesity tax on non-diet sugary drinks in an effort to help pay for a renovation of the country’s health care system and lower consumption of a product presumed to be a crucial contributor to obesity in the U.S. Congressional estimates state that a tax of 3 cents per 12-ounce drink could potentially raise up to $50 billion over 10 years.---

Although I advocate eventually instituting a system of universal health care and would be willing to sacrifice some of my own privileges and earnings to achieve such, this sort of minutia is not the proper way to jumpstart reform. Not everyone who buys Red Bull and Sunny D is obese. Why penalize them?

I don’t personally drink sugary sodas. I’ve been terrified of McDonald’s ever since they made us watch Supersize Me in my 8th grade health class. I’m a vegetarian. Yada yada yada. Who cares? It’s my choice, just as it is every other citizen’s choice to eat a heaping slab of meatloaf cake (yes, it’s real) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And why should I care? This country was founded upon the ability of its citizens to make their own choices. The choice to gorge themselves with Cheetos, Fritos and Doritos. And, yes, the choice for companies to sell products they know aren’t healthy.

So hurry up, take away Mickey D’s Dollar Menu. Down with buy-one-scoop-get-one-free at UDF. Spike up the prices of those fruity daiquiris at restaurants. They’re loaded with calories, you know. Because, sheesh, what’s that word — restraint — good for anyway?!

Go check out Be forewarned: You’ll experience one of two marked reactions. You’ll want to vomit from the grotesqueness of the “food” shown, or you’ll get an uncanny craving for a scoop of candied bacon ice cream (ew!) or a “McNuggetini,” an alcoholic milkshake garnished with barbeque sauce and chicken nuggets.

Either way, the opportunity for us to make ourselves obese is ubiquitous. It’s a fact: People love foods and drinks that are unhealthy, so the market is behemoth. How, then, will taxing such a segregated portion of typical American cuisine be substantial in contributing to create a less rotund population? Sugary drinks are just a piece of the puzzle. Not to mention all of the health controversy surrounding diet drinks, as well!

Yes, obesity is unhealthy. But where do we draw the line? Perhaps more awareness regarding healthy eating habits in coordination with laws requiring all products and restaurants to post nutritional information would be more helpful. If we know how to interpret what we’re eating, we can monitor our eating habits more proficiently.

‘Til then, be sure to order a diet soda along with your burger and fries. Because we’re watching our waistlines, right?

<![CDATA[Killing the Old Self, Birthing a New One]]> I often tell people not to ask me for statistics, because in the work I do all the statistics are bad. Ask me for stories instead, I say, because even in the worst of times I always have a good story. Whether it is one of my own or comes from someone else doesn’t really matter to me anymore. What matters is that it rings true. Like this one I picked up on a visit to Philadelphia last week, which was first told to psychologist Jack Kornfield by the director of a nearby rehabilitation program for violent juvenile offenders:
One fourteen-year-old boy in the program had shot and killed an innocent teenager to prove himself to his gang. At the trial, the victim’s mother sat impassively silent until the end, when the youth was convicted of the killing. After the verdict was announced, she stood up slowly and stared directly at him and stated, “I’m going to kill you.” Then the youth was taken away to serve several years in the juvenile facility.

After the first half year the mother of the slain child went to visit his killer. He had been living on the streets before the killing, and she was the only visitor (in jail) he’d had. For a time they talked, and when she left she gave him some money for cigarettes. Then she started step-by-step to visit him more regularly, bringing food and small gifts. Near the end of his three-year sentence, she asked him what he would be doing when he got out. He was confused and very uncertain, so she offered to help set him up with a job at a friend’s company. Then she inquired about where he would live, and since he had no family to return to, she offered him temporary use of the spare room in her home. For eight months he lived there, ate her food, and worked at the job. Then one evening she called him into the living room to talk. She sat down opposite him and waited.

Then she started, “Do you remember in the courtroom when I said I was going to kill you?”

“I sure do,” he replied. “I’ll never forget that moment.”

“Well, I did it,” she went on. “I did not want the boy who could kill my son for no reason to remain alive on this earth. I wanted him to die. That’s why I started to visit you and bring you things. That’s why I got you the job and let you live here in my house. That’s how I set about changing you. And that old boy, he’s gone. So now I want to ask you, since my son is gone, and that killer is gone, if you’ll stay here. I’ve got room and I’d like to adopt you if you let me.”

And she became the mother he never had.

Honestly, for a man like me, in a place like this, a story like that is more precious than any amount of money or any amount of praise.

Lately I’ve been asked how long I can relate to such badly broken people in this particular way, and the truth is that I don’t know. However long it is, I think, will be determined less by the number of healed lives I see, and more by my ability to sense the depth of the compassion and forgiveness that is trying to heal them. Today, with that good story in my heart, it feels like I may last a while longer than it felt like before I heard it. I hope the same is true of you.

BART CAMPOLO is a veteran urban minister and activist who speaks and writes about grace, faith, loving relationships and social justice. He's leader of The Walnut Hills Fellowship.

<![CDATA[Wednesday Wellness Roundup]]>

Personal Health

  • Fox News: A Brazilian bikini wax nearly kills an Australian woman.

  • Wall Street Journal: States slash health care for uninsured while the Federal government picks up the slack.

Finance and Frugal Living

Green Life

  • Wikipedia: All about Lisa Jackson, Obama's pick to head the EPA.

<![CDATA[Overcoming Obstacles]]> As I’ve written about on here and Twittered about more than a few times, I’ve been through some serious health issues over the last month and a half. It’s actually been a long string of semi-related things - ear infection, sinus infection, TMJ, a very strong allergic reaction to Bactrim, a virus that threw a bunch of levels out of whack, an eye infection, and now apparently some troubles with my liver that may or may not be related to the virus. I haven’t felt normal since before Election Day, to tell the truth.

There have been a lot of days when I’ve wanted to just throw in the towel on all of it and just stay in bed all day, reading books and wallowing in some sense of self-pity. Each time, though, I’ve made myself get up, eat a decent breakfast, take a shower, and at least make some sort of an attempt at productivity, whether it be writing a handful of entries on a good day or simply just answering a couple of emails on a bad one. Some days, I would stop very early and take a nap so that I would have energy in the evening to spend with my children.

What’s kept me going - and will keep me going for the foreseeable future - is hope. I truly believe that at some point in the near future, things will return to some degree of normalcy in my life and health, and that will be a great moment for me, for my wife, for my kids, and for everyone else in my life.

Here’s how.

I look for signs that today is better than the day before it. Many days, I can find those signs, and they keep me optimistic, even if I still don’t feel normal. As I write this, for example, I can reflect that today my energy level has been pretty consistent all day, and that’s been a pretty rare thing as of late.

I keep the positive things in my life front and center at all times. My office has a bunch of pictures of my wife and my children adorning the walls and the desktop. Whenever I need some inspiration, I look at those pictures - and I remember the great things I have to work for and live for.

I remind myself of the positive potential of the future. I think ahead to the things I want to enjoy in the future. I look forward to Christmas, for example, and to the spring and summer beyond that. Thinking of a warm summer day gets me actually excited and really keeps me positive.

I take care of the fundamentals by eating a very healthy diet. I’ve been focusing very hard on eating healthy foods over the past month, carefully selecting a diet that will keep my energy levels up, not put a lot of junk into my body, and provide all my nutritional needs.

What these tactics have in common is that they’re the same tactics I’ve been using to fix my personal finances. I look for ways to motivate myself, keep careful track of my progress, set goals, and focus on the fundamentals.

Whenever you see something that seems difficult in front of you, stick to the basics. Look for ways to motivate yourself and think positively about the obstacle. Keep track of your progress, so that you can clearly see that you are moving forward even if the path seems very difficult. Set goals and milestones along the way so that success can be reached on a regular basis. Focus on the fundamentals along the way - the little things that you know how to do well and the things that can “grease the skids” for the more difficult pieces.

The building blocks of success are universal. One just needs to apply them effectively in the situation they find themselves in.

TRENT HAMM blogs about personal finance at If you have a question that you would like answered, ask in the commments on his blog.

<![CDATA[BBC: Antioxidants Won't Slow Aging]]>

Researchers from University College London say that there's no clear link between antioxidants and slowing the aging process and that the 50-year-old theory that aging is a result of cell damage caused by free radicals is wrong.

From the BBC:
Dr Gems said: "The fact is that we don't understand much about the fundamental mechanisms of ageing - the free radical theory has filled a knowledge vacuum for over 50 years now, but it doesn't stand up to the evidence. "It is clear that if superoxide is involved, it plays only a small part in the story - oxidative damage is clearly not a universal, major driver of the ageing process."

He said a healthy, balanced diet was important for reducing the risk of many "old age" diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis, but there was no clear evidence that eating antioxidants could slow or prevent ageing, and even less evidence to support the claims made by antioxidant pills and creams.

I think this is something we could see coming for some time. There's no Fountain of Youth or miracle cure for aging and death. Even if geneticists arrive at DNA-based solution, it's not going to be perfect and it won't keep you young forever. A healthy lifestyle, moderate diet and happy disposition may be a harder road, but it's also the only road that leads anywhere.

[read more]

<![CDATA[Monday Wellness Roundup]]>

Personal Health

  • AP: Doctors may drop vaccinations for insured children due to paltry insurance reimbursements.

  • Health News: The brain's natural appetite suppressant. ---

  • WSJ: Why the Swiss said yes to heroin and no to pot.


<![CDATA[Buy Nothing Today (or Transact Only As Necessary)]]>

Are you thinking about money this morning? That's what most people are doing--fretting over how much they have to spend and where they can find the best deals. Money should be the first thing on your mind today and, conversely, the last.

In case you hadn't heard, Black Friday has an alter ego: Buy Nothing Day. It's a loosely organized event designed to help you unplug from money for a day. No transactions. No gifts. No buying gas. I like it and advocate it, though I won't be a strict adherent today. I have a car with a bad axle and I need to fix it. So after I finish this article I'm on my way to Autozone. No gifts for me, but I will spend $60 on a car parts. ---

The Enquirer has a story about Christmas shopping and how parents are having to explain to their kids that Santa's on a budget this season. To me, this illustrates that the kids have been taught (as most of us were) to expect a slurry of gifts (which is crazy) instead of a simple token of affection and that the most important aspect of the holiday is what you get out of it (as opposed to what you can give of yourself).

Yuck. All that filthy money.

It's crazy that we're encouraged to spend more than we have and to embrace a culture of credit. It's a way we fuck over our future selves, delaying pain of debt instead of delaying gratification. It's the reason that we're in a recession.

Ideally, even in the context of a whacked acculturation that teaches us to embrace excess, we should try and drive money out of the picture. It should be the last thing on your mind. Most of us have the day off and you could, y'know, spend some time with people we love.

In the real world, axles break and the fridge goes empty. Transactions are important parts of our relationships and keep everything moving. In this way, in the world in which we live, money should be first in your mind--how to live within your means and avoid buying junk.

CNN Money has a bullet list of fiscally responsible demands, asking the new congress to address that other financial mess, the one in our wallets. It includes crazy ideas like outlawing credit cards for kids under 21 who don't earn income, transparency in closing costs and counting payments as on-time if they arrive on their due date (that's not always the case, believe it or not).

And as we (hopefully) make these legislative changes, let's change ourselves, too. Economic reform truly starts at home.

<![CDATA[Monday Wellness Roundup]]>

Personal Health

  • NYT: Texas evangelicals realize that sex is a good idea.

  • WSJ Health Blog: Reading side effects on drug labels can make you sick.---

  • WSJ Health Blog: Forgetting is a good thing.

  • MedGadget: Transdermal patch offers an alternative to needles.


<![CDATA[Monday Wellness Roundup]]> Personal Health
Environment Personal Finance ]]>
<![CDATA[Mid Week Wellness News]]>

Cincinnati Enquirer: The Little Miami Scenic Trail needs $60k in bridge resurfacing to make it safer and prevent bike skids. Signs urging cyclists to walk across would be a lot cheaper. Is anyone reading this blog a part of the decision making process on this?

Queen City Bike: Public discussion--Future of Transit in Greater Cincinnati 5:30-7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at First Unitarian Church, 536 Linton St., Avondale, 513-281-1564.

AP: It's not just baby fat. Obese kids have the arteries of 45-year-olds.

Reuters: Robot pill recreates Fantastic Voyage, targets sites in the body to deposit drugs.


<![CDATA[Monday Wellness Roundup]]>

Health Issues
* Walmart Watch: Lead face paint for kids sold at Walmart, the bottomless pit of shocking corporate behavior.
* Common knowledge confirmed--there's a genetic predisposition to lung cancer. But it's smoking that's still the top cause.
* Gyminee: Social networking, accountability and support for your fitness plan.
Rehab for your Wallet

* The Simple Dollar: Readers offer their best tips for frugal living.
* Five Cent Nickel: How will you spend the next stimulus check? Survey results.

Green Life
* Live Green Cincinnati: Why we need electric car charging stations downtown.

Living By Example
* New York Times: South African activist and musician Miriam Makeba, banned during apartheid, dies.

<![CDATA[Monday Wellness Roundup]]>

This has been a three-cup-of-coffee morning for me. Maybe for you, too. To help get you started on a healthier week, here's some wellness oriented news that should get your blood moving. (We'll work on getting it to boil next time.)---

Wisconsin has banned the practice of drug companies giving gifts to doctors. This will include drug samples, though I'm not clear as to what degree. I spoke with a representative of the Wisconsin Medical Society and am awaiting clarification on how drug samples may be affected. In general, this sounds like a great idea. Payola and gifts are bribes, commercially manipulating a practice that should be guided only by the best interests of the patient. But drug samples are often used by doctors to help low-income patients who may not be able to afford a prescription.

• LifeHacker has this pocket guide to public speaking, including tips such as joining your local Toastmasters organization (Cincinnati has a number of different Toastmasters chapters), making and reviewing videos of your intended presentation and maintaining a blog so that you can exercise your communication skills every day.

• Tomorrow (Oct. 28) is the local Recycling & Beyond conference, which includes presentations on energy conservation and sustainable living. I'm registered and will be there blogging as possible through the day. There may still be time to register and there's a phone number on their site so you can do just that.

<![CDATA[Fruits and Veggies: Simply Radical Preventive Health]]>

As a person who is (or at least is trying to be) health conscious, I have discovered that besides an active lifestyle with plenty of physical exercise, one of the most simple and radical things that I can do to improve my health is to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the proper proportions.
Yes, we've all heard this before, but actually doing it and experiencing the benefits are another thing all together. As a mom who is pregnant with her second child, it has been especially important for me explore this question, wanting to eat extra well for my little one in the womb. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases.

From the CDC's Fruit and Veggies Matter Web site:
Compared with people who consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers.

And the Women's Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine goes on to say that 30 percent of cancer deaths in the US population can be attributed to diet. Low consumption of fruits and vegetables--among other lifestyle-related factors such as smoking, excessive sun exposure, alcohol consumption and lack of exercise--is linked to an increased incidence of cancer.

I love that food is actually a medicine and when used properly is an important part of preventive health. The CDC also urges one to think about color and variety when planning their diet. Simply, since different colors of fruits and veggies contain a variety of nutrients and anioxidants (the cancer-fighting agents), using the color wheel as a guide for your diet is a plan for better health. Make an effort to try new fruits and veggies whenever possible as well. Challenge the American "meat at the center of the plate" model.

Easy menu alternatives include meals like eggplant parmesan or spaghetti squash marinara. If you are a parent struggling with getting your little ones to consume enough of this food group, try keeping veggies frozen when you serve them (cut up when necessary) or introducing tasty salads very early on in childhood to encourage good life-long nutrition habits. Amazingly, my two-year old loves salads and seems to regard them as a normal part of what we eat as a family. Taking small steps in this area is a simple way to live longer and enjoy a new level of health and well-being.

<![CDATA[Pneumonia Vaccine Recommended for Smokers]]>

If you're a smoker, it's a probably a good idea for you to be vaccinated against pneumonia and meningitis.

The Cincinnati Enquirer has this AP story explaining why:
Studies have shown that smokers are about four times more likely than nonsmokers to suffer pneumococcal disease. Also, the more cigarettes someone smokes each day, the higher the odds they'll develop the illnesses.

Why smokers are more susceptible is not known for sure, but some scientists believe it has to do with smoking-caused damage that allows the bacteria to more easily attach to the lungs and windpipe, said Dr. Pekka Nuorti, a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pneumococcal infections are considered the top killer among vaccine-preventable diseases. It's a common complication of influenza, especially in the elderly, and is considered responsible for many of the 36,000 annual deaths attributed to flu.

While we're on the subject of vaccinations, now's a good time to get your flu shot before flu season hits.

The American Lung Association has this handy guide to finding flu clinics. Just punch in your zip code and out comes a list.

<![CDATA[Learn to Relax at Local Wellness Centers]]>

Between workdays extending well beyond the old school eight hours, children’s extracurricular activities and the enigma of how to pay all of the bills while still having money left over for vacations and college funds, who has time to relax? To this day, when my mother is sick and you tell her to relax, her response is always, “Baby, I don’t have time to relax.”

Aside from making you grumpy, stress is a real medical problem. It contributes to headaches, muscle tension, heart attacks, high blood pressure and has even been linked to cancer. Stress can weaken your immune system, making it nearly impossible to fight off infection. With this in mind, there are a number of local businesses that are in your corner, ready to help with stress reduction.

The Relaxation Center, located in Loveland, offers exactly what their name says—pure relaxation and a vision of “healing the world, one body at a time.” According to Joyce Warner, co-owner of the center, hers is a company that prides itself on a quiet, warm and inviting atmosphere and was even voted Best Massage in 2006 by They offer many services to help your worries melt away including deep tissue massage, relaxation massage, pregnancy massage, sinus massage and craniosacral aromatherapy, just to name a few. The Relaxation Center also provides on-site chair massages, brought directly to your home or office.

Tucked away in a historic train station in Blue Ash is the Mantra Wellness Center. The key word for this business is “holistic.” They are focused on not only treating stress, but also preventing it. While they do offer some unfamiliar services such as Iridology, which studies a patient’s iris for signs of illness, and Feldenkrais, which focuses on body awareness and movement, they are best known for their customized services. Some of these include massage therapy, Reiki energy healing, acupuncture, diet and nutritional guidance, hypnotherapy and detox hydrotherapy. They have practitioners who specialize in bamboo massage and Thai yoga massage. In addition to their many services, they offer classes including Reiki Dojo, where one can be trained to become a Reiki practitioner, Primordial Sound Meditation for deeper, more effective meditation and even classes on aromatherapy and infant massage. According to Adrienne Davidson, owner and operator of the center, they take personal attention seriously. “We know who your are when you come in, and not just because we’ve looked at your chart,” she says.

If you’re looking for total energy treatment, then visit Het Heret Transformation Resources in Blue Ash. This center offers something completely out of the norm and, in fact, there are only ten practitioners in the country who offer Atlasprofilax services, which involve using a vibrating instrument as well as some light manual pressure on acupuncture and trigger points in the upper cervical region. The treatment works toward deep and thorough relaxation in the muscles and it leads to a new balance between the antagonist muscles (a medical term for muscles which pull in opposite directions), causing the vertebrae to function better.

Beverly Welbourne, owner of the center says, “Atlasprofilax relieves not only the neck and back, it also brings more life force, Qi or Kundalini to the body. It is an initiation into a new energy field, one which is very welcome for those who are prepared for it.”

These are just a few of the incredible alternative health experiences available in our area. Through holistic work, you may just find that there really is a happier, calmer you somewhere inside after all.