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Mills-Peninsula Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

Complementary Medicine: Yes or No?

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Proven or not, complementary medicine is booming in the U.S. Americans spend about $34 billion annually on treatments such as acupuncture and herbal supplements, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

But do they work? Study results are mixed at best, but a few are standing up to the scrutiny. For example, a 2012 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that acupuncture is an effective treatment for chronic pain. Read More

Knee Pain Solutions

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No wonder so many Americans suffer knee pain.

  • When you walk, the force across your knee cap is three times your body weight.
  • When you run, the force is five times your body weight.
  • And when you jump and land, the force is seven times your body weight.

So if you are a walker, a runner or a person who loves to shoot hoops on Saturday morning, you will undoubtedly feel pain in your knees at some point in your life, says Robert Detch, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mills-Peninsula Health Services.

What can you do? First, “forget the joint juice,” Dr. Detch says. “There’s no evidence that supplements like glucosamine or chondroitin really help.” Instead, follow some simple, proven tips to help prevent knee pain – or at least stop it from getting worse. Read More

Got Calcium?

Calcium is an essential nutrient not just for your bones, but also for your muscles and brain.

This mineral helps your nerves carry messages from your brain to the parts of your body. It helps your muscles move. And, of course, it’s a critical building block for strong teeth and bones.

Yet most Americans – children and adults – don’t get enough calcium in their diet. Many people turn to supplements, but research shows they don’t give your body the same protection as calcium from food. In fact, they can increase your risk for kidney stones and in some people may slightly increase the risk of heart attack.

What should you do? First, understand how much calcium you really need for your age and stage in life. Then, start adding foods high in calcium – low-fat milk, yogurt, hard cheeses and greens such as collards – to your daily meals.

calcium info graphic

Food Allergies in Kids: What to Know

Blackboard showing foods that can cause food allergies.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 8 percent of children under age 18 have food allergies. Those with asthma or other allergies are twice as likely to have a food allergy. Peanuts cause more serious allergic reactions than any other food. Milk and eggs are not far behind. Other allergens include wheat, soy, corn, tree nuts, seafood and sesame seeds.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction, also referred to as an anaphylactic reaction, can include difficulty breathing, hives, an itchy throat, vomiting and shock. If the condition is severe, epinephrine (adrenaline) may need to be administered to restore breathing.

“Most of the other symptoms resolve in four to six hours,” Mills-Peninsula pediatrician Amita Jain, M.D., says. “In rare instances, an anaphylactic reaction can be fatal.” Read More

National Healthcare Decisions Day: Express Your Care Preferences

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April 16 – the day after tax day – is National Healthcare Decisions Day, a day set aside to tackle another important issue: planning and expressing your future health care preferences.

“This day is a good time to encourage your family and friends to make their health care wishes known,” says Ann Jones, R.N., a Mills-Peninsula palliative care nurse. “This process starts with clarifying values, identifying and expressing care preferences and selecting an agent to express health care decisions if a person is unable to speak for him or herself.” Read More

Three Tips for Building Strong Bones

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The secret to strong bones? It’s not just about boosting calcium.

Nine million Americans have osteoporosis and 48 million more are at risk of getting the disease, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Calcium helps strengthen bones, but many Americans, particularly women, don’t consume enough of this essential nutrient. So it’s no surprise that more than 40 million Americans took calcium supplements in 2012.

Natalya Denissov, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula family medicine doctor, says boosting calcium is important, but supplements are not the answer for most people.

“People need to make sure they get enough calcium, especially women who are pregnant or post-menopausal,” she says. “But get it from food, not a pill.” Read More

Get the Truth About Gluten

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More than a million Americans have sworn off gluten, claiming that a gluten-free diet has helped them shed unwanted pounds, boost their energy and feel healthier. But is this increasingly popular trend beneficial or even safe?

People who eat gluten-free diets typically avoid bread, crackers and pasta. And that’s just the start. Found in a myriad of foods such as salad dressing, soy sauce, mustard, baked beans and more, the gluten protein helps breads rise and sauces thicken. Cutting this common compound out of your diet can be surprisingly difficult.

“The avoidance of gluten is only important if you are experiencing uncomfortable or dangerous symptoms,” Mills-Peninsula gastroenterologist Vino Verghese, M.D., says. “Gluten by itself is not a harmful substance. It’s simply a protein complex found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye.”

Read More