Thursday, October 23, 2014

Study: Even Nominal Alcohol Use Increases Cancer Risk

Researchers conclude that there is no safe threshold for alcohol and cancer risk.

When the science research came out telling us that there may be actual health benefits to wine (such as that gained from the bioflavonoid resveratrol found in the skin of red grapes), many used that as a “bottoms-up!” justification to drink, and drink some more. But is it wise? Even if there are health benefits to alcoholic drinks in moderation, the latest research puts the cap back on the bottle, warning us of cancer risks associated with alcohol use, and that, in fact, alcohol contributes substantially to premature death from any cause.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, shows that alcohol accounts for 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S. That’s a whopping 20,000-or-so alcohol-attributable deaths annually.

Their estimates showed that each alcohol-related cancer death led to about 18 years of life lost. Do the math: This means that, on average, if you would have lived alcohol-free to, say, 80, your alcohol-related breast cancer death would take your life at closer to age 62.

Still looking forward to your six-pack TGIF celebration at the end of your work week? 

But how much is too much?  As it turns out, Not much!

Back to “common sense” – you will have surmised correctly if you suspected that quantity of drinking is a factor. But you may be surprised to read how little alcohol it takes to nudge you closer to death.

True enough, those who drink more that three drinks a day have the highest risk of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths. But before you offer up a toast to your good fortune as one who drinks less,  you should know that the study also showed that 30 percent of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths happened to those who consumed less than one and a half drinks a day.

So, as it turns out, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was right when, four years ago, they set Dietary Guidelines for Americans advising that, "If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation – up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men."

That said, the researchers in this latest study concluded that, while higher consumption increases risk, there is no safe threshold for alcohol and cancer risk.

Just one drink … But in How big of a glass?

Let’s talk about the definition on “one drink” before you swipe your brow with relief as a one-drink-a-day kind of person. 

Researchers define a drink by units, in which one unit is 10 ml of pure alcohol. That’s roughly a single shot glass of stronger liquors, such as vodka or whiskey, or a standard-sized single bottle of beer.  If you’re one of those who fills their red wine glass to the top – which is not how a red wine glass is meant to be used – you’ve likely just consumed the alcoholic equivalent of three drinks already. That particular kind of “just one drink” is enough to put you into the higher cancer risk category.

The science behind the conclusions

Existing research has already identified alcohol consumption as tied to increased incidences cancer. In this new study, the researchers analyzed records of deaths tied to seven different types of cancers known to be associated with alcohol use: cancer of the colon, rectum, oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, and of the female breast.

The scientists used 2009 U.S. mortality data, aligning it to alcohol surveys and per capita alcohol consumption data to determine the extent to which cancer deaths can be attributed to alcohol use. As well, the researchers studied earlier cancer research and even examined alcohol sales figures from 2009 and two large nationwide surveys of alcohol consumption levels in adults.

Is no alcohol the answer?

Whether you choose to use this new information to motivate a cutback vs. a full stop vs. no change in your alcohol consumption is up to you.  One could argue (and many have) that it’s biblical to drink alcohol. Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, recommended drinking a little wine once in a while to help digestion.
But the sum of it remains that, while alcohol – in moderation – may offer a few cardiovascular benefits, alcohol's cancer-causing properties appear to outweigh the benefits.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spice Up Your Health AND Your Recipes

We’ve scoured the internet to feature a variety of tasty recipes specifically selected to help you add the healing power of medicinal spices and healing herbs to your diet.

Evidence captured from medical research of common spices shows that their intake can have profound health benefits, even lowering cancer risk and suppressing negative tumor activity. To get the scoop on spices with scientifically validated evidence of health benefits, including disease prevention and healing, see our two recent articles The Medicine Cabinet in Your Kitchen and More on the Medicine Cabinet in Your Kitchen. For their culinary benefits, read on!

Recipes with Healthy Spices and Healing Herbs

Try these recipes, designed to use the healthiest kitchen spices. They’ll not only flavor your food but boost your health by using the medically researched spices and herbs allspice, basil, caraway, cardamom, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, and garlic.

Allspice Recipes 

  • Cincinnati Chili – You haven’t truly experienced Cincinnati unless you’ve had authentic Cincinnati chili served up at one of 170-plus well-known chili chain parlors, such as Skyline Chili and Gold Star Chili. But why wait for that next Cincy trip, when you can make this Authentic Cincinnati Chili recipe in your own kitchen? As a nice health bonus, the recipe uses lots of allspice.
  • Spiced Nut Mix – If you haven’t the time or patience to make the chili recipe above, here’s a snack recipe that can be ready in an hour and uses several spices with outstanding health benefits, including allspice: Spiced nut mix.

Basil Recipes

Caraway Recipes

To get a day full of caraway, follow this plan:

Cardamom Recipes

To spice up your life with Cardamom, let’s go around the globe:

Cayenne Pepper Recipes

These healthy cayenne recipes all come from, and are ideal when you’re in a hurry, since they can all be prepared and cooked in 30 minutes or less!

Cinnamon Recipes

An easy way to boost your cinnamon intake is to add it liberally to your smoothies.  For your kids, it doesn’t get easier than the classic cinnamon toast (for a healthier twist use honey instead of sugar).  For more healthy cinnamon recipes, try these:

Clove Recipes

Cloves are a useful flavor addition to deserts, such as applesauce cake, cookies, desert sauces, and gingerbread.  It’s also popular in side dishes like baked beans, cranberry, and sauerbraten, or in spiced nut recipes.
  • Clove Snaps – similar to the popular ginger snaps cookies, this clove snaps recipe gives a nice crunch but with a couple teaspoons of the health clove spice.
  • Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie – Another clove-full dessert, Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie, looks just like pumpkin pie but uses sweet potatoes as the main ingredient, along with (you guessed it) ground cloves.

Coriander Recipes

  • Hard-Boiled Eggs with Chiles – This recipe uses a full tablespoon of coriander seeds and creates a flavorful side dish with other healthy spices, including cumin and garlic.  Get the recipe here.
  • Stuffed turkey breasts – This main course dish, Boudin Blanc–Stuffed Turkey Breasts with Chestnuts, includes a cornucopia of healthy spices, including coriander seeds, allspice, clove, and more.

Cumin Recipes

  • Roast Chicken – This version of a popular American dish adds a nice Middle East flavor, thanks to its generous use of cumin, as well as allspice: Roast Chicken with Cumin, Paprika and Allspice.
  • Classic Hummus – This traditionally Middle East dip has become popular throughout the U.S. To make it fresh, try this classic hummus recipe, which not only uses lots of cumin, but also garlic.
Also see the Authentic Cincinnati Chili recipe in the allspice section above – it uses lots of cumin too!

Garlic Recipes

Garlic is easy to add to just about any kind of dish. Some particularly healthy ways to boost your garlic:

Spice up our lives!

Do you have recommendations or experience on recipes that use these medicinally healthy spices and herbs? Don’t keep that juicy gossip to yourselves – share here with your fellow readers by using the comments field below.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Genetic Testing for Cancer

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing, also known as gene testing, is a simple blood test that looks for mutations in the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes, which help prevent cancer.

What is a BRCA mutation? Why is it important?

The BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes are known as tumor suppressors.  These particular genes help prevent cancer by producing specific proteins.  When there is a mutation with one, or both, of these genes, the likelihood of an individual developing cancer increases, according to cancer researchers.

Who should consider genetic testing?

Based on a checklist of questions about your family’s history of cancer, your doctor can help you determine if genetic counseling, and possibly genetic testing, is appropriate.

Risk factors include:

A relative diagnosed with cancer at or before the age of 50
A relative with two primary cancers, such as your mother being diagnosed with cancer in each breast
A relative with two different, but genetically related, cancers, i.e. your aunt being diagnosed with both breast and ovarian cancers
Two or more cases of the same cancer in close relatives
A number of related cancers on the same side of the family
A relative with a rare form of cancer, such as male breast cancer
A known cancer gene mutation on either side of the family

Does testing apply to all types of cancer?

Yes, although mutations in the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes are typically linked to breast and ovarian cancer, those who inherit these genes are at greater risk of developing other types of cancers, too.

How much does the test cost? Is it covered by insurance?

Genetic testing can cost several hundred to several thousands of dollars. Some insurance companies will cover the cost of the test; other companies do not. Be sure to check with your insurance company regarding coverage prior to being tested.

How is gene testing helping with a cure for cancer?

From proactive measures, such as more frequent screenings, to more extreme measures, such as a prophylactic double mastectomy, genetic testing is helping individuals find out about their possibility of developing cancer earlier. Being aware of genetic links regarding cancer allows individuals to research options and make informed choices.

What else should you know?

Only approximately 20 percent of individuals with gene mutations develop breast cancer.
Lifestyle choices continue to play a crucial role in developing the disease.
According to Otis Brawley, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, most people have one-two family members with cancer, but only 5-10 percent of cancers are caused by an inherited gene defect.

Where can you learn more?

Your doctor. Be sure to mention any family history or cancer and your concerns at your next visit.

The National Society of Genetic Counselors is an organization with trained professionals who specifically work with those at risk of developing cancer due to high genetic factors.  These professionals assist individuals with the decision to have genetic testing, consider options once they receive results and make appropriate choices about what to do next based on their personal needs.

Visit the American Cancer Society,, for information and updates regarding cancer diagnosis, testing and treatment options.

Be Wize & Be Healthy

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Recipes for a Raw Food Diet

Now that you have learned about the benefits of raw food dieting, and read how to get started with a raw food lifestyle let’s get down to business in the kitchen with some rousing raw food recipes to whet your appetite.   We’ll begin with the most basic of recipes, and then include some surprisingly creative raw food recipes that will amaze your taste buds and please the whole family.  But before we get started with the recipes, we should take a brief moment to look at…

Raw food risks and precautions

Some of the risks of going on a raw food diet include:
  • Food poisoning from either consuming foods raw or undercooked that should not be a part of a standard raw food diet, such as fish or meat or from not properly cleaning, preparing, or storing the raw food ingredients
  • Potential growth problems for for anyone, but particularly infants and children, on an improperly administered raw food diet
  • Consuming foods that are bad for you if eaten raw, such as beans and lentils. That said, an extremely healthy way to prepare lentils on a raw food diet is to sprout them.
While raw fruits and vegetables generally provide the highest level of nutrition, you should be aware that there are some foods whose ingredients, or a specific ingredient, are more bioavailable when cooked.  For example, while ripe raw tomatoes are loaded with nutritional value, the lycopene in tomatoes – effective in fighting certain types of cancer – is more easily absorbed into the body when the tomato has been processed into a tomato sauce with olive oil.  Likewise, raw kale is a powerhouse of vitamin and mineral goodness. But, as this article explains, you boost the effectiveness of kale’s fiber-related components when you steam it.

Raw food recipes

Let’s not forget that the basics of raw food dieting are ridiculously easy – simply add daily uncooked fruits or vegetables to your meals.  There are many fun and tasty raw food recipes, available in books or online. But don’t let food preparation knowhow and effort overwhelm you from adding raw food to your diet. For example:
  • Eat a banana, an apple, and a handful or two of raw nuts for breakfast.  The fruit starts up your digestive juices and fortifies your immune system with antioxidants. The apple gives you some valuable roughage.  And the nuts provide protein, which will help you feel full.
  • Make sure your lunch includes a salad with fresh, organic greens.
  • For dinner, use raw veggies for the side dish instead of cooked.  Good and easy choices include celery sticks, carrot sticks, or sweet peppers. 
  • While alcohol is generally considered taboo on a raw food diet, if you cannot bear the thought of going without alcoholic beverages, then at least choose wine.  Unlike beer or or any hard liquors that go through the heat of distillation, wine is not heated in the processing.

If you can achieve even just a 50 percent raw diet, you will begin to experience the many health benefits it offers. When you want to add variety, a selection of raw food recipe websites and raw food recipe books can add zest to your diet, keeping it interesting and balancing out your vitamin and mineral intake.  Here's just a tiny sample of delicious recipes for a raw food diet:
Do these not look like an appetizing start to your raw food diet?  You'll find thousands of delicious raw food recipes online, with some particularly good ones at Raw Food Home Recipes, We Like It Raw recipes, Gone Raw Recipes and, if you want raw juicing recipes, join the Let's Get Juiced!! Facebook group.  Between those four sites alone, you will have several hundred recipes worth trying and sharing.

If you have a favorite raw food recipe, share!  Please submit it, or the link to it, using the comments below.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Vestibular System

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 69 million Americans have experienced a form of vestibular dysfunction, also known as a balance disorder.  While these numbers may be alarming, by learning more about the delicate vestibular system, you can help to ensure the health of your family members.

What is the vestibular system and how does it work?

The vestibular system consists of parts of the inner ear and parts of the brain that process information related to balance and eye movements. Balance is maintained in the body by input from three systems: vision; touch sensors in the feet, trunk, and spine; and the inner ear. When the vestibular system malfunctions, balance issues such as dizziness, vertigo, and equilibrium difficulties can occur.

What causes vestibular disorders?

Genetic influences
Environmental conditions
Unknown factors

What are common signs of a balance disorder?

Vertigo and/or dizziness
Imbalance or disorientation
Visual disturbances
Hearing changes
Psychological and/or cognitive changes

Experts warn that dizziness alone may be a symptom of another condition or disorder. Vestibular disorders often present as more than one symptom. As always, consult with your healthcare provider if you or a family member experiences any of these symptoms.

What are the most common vestibular disorders?

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – a condition resulting from loose debris in the inner ear. BBPV can be caused by a head injury, or it can be part of the natural aging process.
Meniere’s disease – Also called primary endolymphatic hydrops, this condition involves abnormalities in one of the fluids of the inner ear. It is a disorder that progressively gets worse.
Labyrinthitis/vestibular neuritis – conditions that are caused by a viral infection, which can result in damage to hearing and the functioning of the vestibular system.
Secondary endolymphatic hydrops – a condition that involves abnormalities in one of the fluids of the inner ear.
Perilymph fistula – a tear or defect in the small, thin membranes that separate the middle ear from the fluid-filled inner ear. This condition is usually caused by injury.

Other vestibular conditions:

Vestibular migraine (MAV): characterized by headache and may include dizziness, vertigo, and/or imbalance, sensitivity to light and sound.
Complications from autoimmune disorders.
Complications from allergies.

Is there a difference between dizziness, vertigo, and equilibrium difficulties?

There is.

Dizziness is lightheadedness, faintness, and unsteadiness.
Vertigo differs from dizziness because it is characterized by a spinning or sensation with the perception of movement, either of an individual or surrounding objects.
Equilibrium difficulty, often called disequilibrium, consists of unsteadiness, imbalance, and/or loss of equilibrium.

Who can be affected by vestibular disorders?

Balance disorders can occur at any age.

Are there special concerns for children regarding balance disorders?

Yes. Specifically, the proper development and function of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) is a concern in children. If impaired, the result may be difficulty in school as well as typical activities such as bike riding and swimming.

What are treatment options?

In some cases, a physician may prescribe medication to help alleviate the symptoms of a vestibular disorder. Remember to use your Familywize Discount Prescription Drug Card when purchasing medication at your pharmacy to receive applicable discounts.  Another treatment option called vestibular therapy, which is a type of physical therapy, may also be used for vestibular rehabilitation.

Want to learn more about balance disorders?

Visit,, or

Be Wize & Be Healthy

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to Get Started on a Raw Food Diet

How to get started with a raw food diet

After reading our raw food diet primer What’s the Big Deal About Eating Raw Foods, you may be interested in “going raw” (as it’s called when you completely convert to a raw food-only diet), or at least making an effort to add raw food to your daily diet for better health.  If so, here's how to get started with the raw food diet and lifestyle.

Follow the leaders

Some of the biggest mistakes made by those who attempt to initiate a raw food diet is doing it alone. For most people, the raw food diet will be a significant change from the way they have always done food preparation. It's a radical enough departure from the standard American diet that "going raw" is often referred to as a lifestyle change, not simply a dietary change.

For this reason, it's highly advisable to partner up with someone who has successfully gone raw so that you can learn from their mistakes and get valuable cost-saving and time-saving advice.

If you don't have access to a knowledgeable, successful, practicing raw foodist among your friends or relatives, don't worry; there is a wealth of resources available to help you expand your knowledge, your food preparation skills, and your ability to do a raw food diet safely and successfully. For example:
  • There is a growing number of fact-filled, entertaining, and instructional raw food blogs (online weblogs) and vlogs (video weblogs) in which practitioners freely share a wealth of useful info, such as the Facebook group Let’s Get Juiced or the YouTube channel FullyRawKristina. The videos are particularly helpful, as you can learn by watching. To find some, go to YouTube or Vimeo and search for "raw food dieting" or "raw food lifestyle" to get started.
  • There are also dozens of reliable books on raw food dieting in the raw food lifestyle. To find the most reliable book resources, take advantage of the online bookstores' customer ratings and reviews.
  • Also look locally. Through libraries, health food stores, raw food restaurants, produce co-ops, and raw food producers, you can often find local seminars or raw food special interest groups meeting regularly to teach and learn about raw food techniques.

Preparing your kitchen for a raw food diet

Chances are that your kitchen isn't already ideally set up and prepared for raw food preparation. Sure: in many communities, you can simply buy prepared raw foods or dine at raw food restaurants – if you are one of the lucky communities to have them – rather than prepare them yourself.  However, you will no doubt find this a pricey proposition. For example, the local coffee house in my town sells an amazing chocolate  fudge food bar – delicious! – made entirely from raw, organic ingredients… for a whopping six dollars! The same coffee house also sells a traditionally prepared fudge bar – equally delicious – for just three bucks. 

Why the difference? Raw food recipes often take considerably more time to prepare, need to be prepared in smaller batches, have a shorter shelf life, and have more costly raw ingredients. Consequently, you may find going raw with your diet more realistic if you prepare the food at home.

Just be aware of the fact that there are getting-started costs that, while they will pay off in the long run, can make it a significant upfront investment to get the ball rolling. For example, commonly employed appliances in a raw food kitchen include:
  • A high powered blender – $200-$600 – necessary to sufficiently process fruit and green smoothies or raw soups. A cheap blender will burn out quickly under daily use and not produce a palatable texture.
  • A quality juicer – $150-$500. Cheaper juicers are often hard to clean, less able to handle the rigors of frequent juicing, and will heat up the produce during the juicing process, which can kill off nutritional value.
  • A food dehydrator – $150-$400. With the good dehydrator, you can significantly expand your raw food diet variety, such as making mock pizza crust from soaked seeds or a tasty raw fruit leather for raw food snacking on the go.
  • A high-end food processor – $100-$700. You want to look for one that can easily handle grading, slicing, and shredding processes for many kinds of foods. You'll be doing enough of this that a food processor, rather than hand-processing, will cut down significantly on your food prep time.

Beyond appliance purchases, the organic ingredients of the standard raw food diet usually cost more than conventional produce, which will be a continuing cost consideration.  Also, you will likely spend a good bit upfront with your raw food diet, stocking up on raw food ingredients that have long shelf lives, such as maca root powder, goji berries, raw organic nuts, organic dates, flax seed, hemp seed, etc. – any ingredients recommended in the first recipes you decide to try that you likely don't have already if you are presently eating a standard American diet.

The good news is that some of your food costs are likely to go down. For example, one of the largest expenses in the average American shopping cart is meat – something you won't need if you are on a completely raw food diet. Likewise, you'll find that your dining out budget will likely get a break. Chances are you won't be making a habit of fast food restaurants anymore, as few have accommodating ingredients for raw food dieter.

Now that you are prepared to go raw, start using Google search or YouTube's search engine to get a few simple recipes to help you start eating raw. And stay tuned – we've got one more raw foods article coming, featuring some amazing raw food recipes that sound too good to be true!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Nursing Homes: Are Your Parents in Danger?

When we put our aging relatives in the care of a nursing home, we assume they will be treated with dignity and compassion. But is that a safe assumption? Apparently not.

Whether in nursing homes or in situations of in-home care, there is always the possibility that a caregiver will intentionally act in a way that causes harm or creates a significant risk of harm to the highly vulnerable elder individual. This is known as elder mistreatment (or elder abuse/elder neglect), as is the failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect them from harm. Elder mistreatment can take many forms, including verbal abuse, physical abuse, or even financial abuse.

It is sad but true that the risk of elder maltreatment is high enough in the US  that the situation justified the creation of a federal institution, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), dedicated to tracking statistics on, and preventing, the abuse of the elderly. NCEA reports that the problem of elder abuse is growing, that collective data from state Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies show an increasing trend in the reporting of elder abuse.

Elder mistreatment Statistics

What is particularly hard to handle emotionally is the discovery that elder abuse is often committed by someone that you trusted as a loving caregiver or someone you trusted professionally to care for your relative.  But it can happen, as these alarming statistics show:
  • According to NCEA, as many as two million elders are abused in the United States.
  • In one year alone, the U.S. Administration on Aging announced a cumulative total in state-reported incidences of more than 20,000 complaints of senior abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation of seniors who were in nursing homes or were board and care residents.
  • A National Research Council Panel to Review Risk and Prevalence of Elder Abuse and Neglect reported in 2003 that 1-2 million elder Americans were injured, exploited, or mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.
  • While elder abuse happens in professional institutions, the NCEA cautions you to be aware that 90 percent of reported elder abuse is committed by family members.
Many organizations suspect that the problem of elder abuse may actually be five times higher than complaint statistics show; a study by the National Center on Elder Abuse estimated that only one in five cases of elder mistreatment are ever reported.

Common Signs of Elder Abuse

As a caring relative, it is important that you personally watch for indications of elder care abuse, especially if you're loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, as they may not be able to communicate to you about it, or or might not even be aware of the abuse being perpetrated against them.
Signs of Elder Physical Abuse
Here are some of the common signs that your elderly relative may be a victim of physical abuse or neglect:
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Bedsores – an extremely dangerous condition, as it can lead to sepsis infection – blood poisoning – a whole-body state of inflammation, which is potentially deadly. 
  • Strange or unexplained cuts, sprains, bruises, burns, or broken bones, which may be in various stages of healing (suggesting a long-term abuse situation)
  • Frozen/immobile joints
  • Refusal of nursing home staff to allow visitors to be alone with your elder relative
  • Unexplained venereal disease or genital trauma
  • The appearance that your elder relative is being kept in an over-medicated condition
Signs of Financial Elder abuse
Elder financial abuse is statistically a more frequent problem when the person is being cared for at home, and can come from a relative or professional in-home caregiver providing services.

Signs of elder care financial abuse to be on the lookout for:
  • Someone else's name has been added to your relative's signature card.
  • Cash or other items of value are missing from your relative's wallet, purse, or room.
  • You've noticed uncharacteristically large withdrawals from your loved one's financial accounts.
  • Your elder relative unexpectedly wants to change their will, their power of attorney status, their real estate title, or their life insurance policy.
  • You see unpaid bills, and yet you know your relative has the funds to pay the bills.
  • You notice ATM withdrawals from your relative's accounts in spite of the fact that he or she has no access to a machine.
These are all symptoms that your elder loved one might be being coerced, forced, or tricked out of their finances or valuables.

What to do if you suspect your elder relative is being abused

If the suspected abuse is taking place at a nursing home, your first step should be to report your suspicions to the nursing home's administrator.  If possible, present evidence of the abuse to support your assertion (photographs, copies of financial statements, etc.). If this action does not get results, you may also want to seek legal advice from an experienced elder abuse lawyer.  If you feel your elder relative's life may be in imminent danger, contact your local police.

It is not safe to assume that those hired to care for the elderly will notice the problem. Signs of elder abuse can easily be missed by professionals  because of lack of training on detecting abuse or because the elderly individual is often reluctant to report abuse to their institution for fear of retaliation, a physical or cognitive inability to speak up, or because, if the abuser is a family friend or relative, they don’t want to get the perpetrator in trouble.

And so, it’s up you. Become the watchful eyes; pay attention and ask questions. Be ready to take legal action against perpetrators if necessary.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Five No-Gimmick Tips to Slow Hair Loss

Losing your hair may be an alarming thought, or even a present reality for you.  Can you stop the balding?  Many hair loss product ads make that claim, but are they trustworthy or just snake oil salesman? While many claims are dubious, there are steps you can take to slow down hair loss.

First, the bad news:
  • Hair loss for everyone is inevitable. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) tells us that it’s normal to lose about 50-100 hairs every day.
  • AAD stats suggests that 66 percent of all men develop balding in some form during their lifetimes.
  • Balding may be inevitable for you when the cause is hereditary.

Now, the good news: Scientists understand what causes balding and can offer up legitimate ways to slow your hair loss or, in some cases, help you reverse balding.

What causes hair loss

Many factors play into hair loss, and may differ from one person to another. The more common causes include:
  • Hereditary baldness, also referred to as male-baldness and female-pattern baldness.  AAD estimates that 80 million in the U.S. suffer from hereditary hair loss.
  • Dietary irregularities, such as too much vitamin A, not enough protein or iron, or eating disorders, can cause hair loss and can prevent hair regrowth.
  • Certain medicines can cause baldness.
  • Stress is a common source of short-term hair loss, whether a physical stress (menopause, giving birth, significant weight loss, etc.) or emotional stress, such as a major traumatic event.
Other less-common hair loss causes include certain autoimmune diseases, falling estrogen levels from giving birth, some cancer treatments, ringworm of the scalp, certain autoimmune diseases, and other hair disorders.

Five tips: How to slow hair loss

To slow down or potentially reverse hair loss, here are five tips that may work for you.
Tip #1: Reduce stress
While many types of stress cannot be avoided, you can reduce your stress level by knowing that many stress-induced hair loss problems are temporary. You may also be able to reduce your stress by engaging in physical activities of an aerobic nature, which can generate stress-reducing endorphins. Read more on exercising for stress reduction from the Mayo Clinic.
Tip #2: Check your prescriptions
Some medications (including some psychiatric drugs or blood thinners) will increase hair loss. But if you think this could be causing your hair loss, see your doctor before stopping your medication to avoid other withdrawal side effects.  Your doctor can confirm if a medication he or she prescribed could be causing your hair loss and potentially prescribe an alternative.
Tip #3: Make dietary improvements to prevent hair loss
Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating such foods as walnuts, salmon, or sardines. Foods that are high in vitamin B can also help reduce hair loss, as can consuming foods that are naturally high in iron.
Tip #4: Adjust your hair care methods.
Sometimes, something as simple as the way you wash or dry your hair or the way you style it can accelerate hair loss.  The AAD offers recommendations on how to stop damaging your hair – suggestions that vary, depending on your hair type.
Tip #5: See a dermatologist.
If you baldness condition is worsening and nothing seems to help, consider getting professional help. A dermatologist can help determine the cause of your hair loss and recommend a course of treatment. Depending on the cause, the dermatologist may prescribe finasteride, corticosteroid, or minoxidil to help treat your hair loss.
To learn more about hair loss and hair loss prevention, investigate these hair loss articles from AAD: Hair loss: Who gets and causes, Diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes for hair loss, and Tips for managing hair loss.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 26, 2014

Staying Safe in a Storm

Regardless of the type of storm, any severe weather can threaten the safety of you and your family. Storms have the ability to cause extensive damage and destruction in minutes.  From preparation safety to storm kits, read on for storm safety tips to keep your loved ones cozy and safe when the next storm hits.

In any type of storm, there are a few typical concerns, which include:

The safety of you and your family.
Effective communication system(s).
A back-up power supply, for your home as well as your data.
Minimizing destruction to your home and property.

Experts recommend families have a storm kit on hand at all times, modifying the contents based on the type of storm and time of year.

What should a storm kit include?

Non-perishable food items. Keep in mind the needs of those with food allergies or other special dietary needs.
Water — enough for 72 hours. The rule is one gallon per person per day for drinking and sanitation. Commercially bottled water is recommended for storage purposes.
Medications for any family members or pets who require them. Don't forget to use your Familywize Prescription Discount Card!
Personal hygiene items.
Flashlights and extra batteries.
A battery-operated radio.
Cell phones and solar chargers.
A first aid kit.
Any battery-operated lighting.
Pet food and supplies.
Personal documents. Also, write down important phone numbers that are stored digitally in case computers and cells phones are not functioning properly.

What do you need to know about storm preparation?

According to,

1. Make sure your storm kit is stocked and ready.
2. Establish a communication plan for your family, including those who can’t get home. Always have a key contact person outside the immediate family to check in with.
3. Clean your yard of loose branches that could fall or cause injury. Secure objects that could fall or blow away during heavy winds.
4. Go indoors and bring pets with you.
5. Back-up digital data and records with a reliable system.
6. Unplug electrical equipment.

What additional items should be considered for winter storm safety?

Keep family members and pets warm. Have extra clothing, blankets and sleeping bags on hand. Don’t forget hats, mittens and earmuffs! Consider an alternative source of heat in case your main heat is lost for an extended period of time. Remember: Even 50 degrees can seem unbearable overnight.
High winds combined with freezing temperatures could be destructive to power lines.
Because precipitation could be a concern, make sure snow removal equipment is serviced and in good condition. Also, have a pet-friendly ice melter, salt or kitty litter on hand.

What are special concerns for thunder and lightning storms?

Hail can be dangerous to family members, pets and property.
Storms move quickly. Move indoors, if possible, before lightning starts.
Lightning is one of the top three storm-related killers. Take the threat of lightning seriously and teach your children to do the same.

Where can you obtain additional information on storm safety?

Additional information is available at or

Be Wize & Be Healthy

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eat Your Veggies…For Dessert

Individuals have been trying to solve the dilemma for years: how do you incorporate more vegetables into your daily diet? Main meals and snacks are challenging enough, but what about dessert? The idea has recently become a trendy addition to the dessert trays at restaurants. Now, you can prepare these healthier desserts right at home.

How did the idea of adding vegetables to desserts get started?

Dessert staples such as Carrot Cake and Zucchini Bread have been around for ages. In fact, rumor has it Sweet Potato Pie was a favorite of Elvis Presley back in the ‘60s. Using vegetables such as eggplant in desserts actually has its “roots” in a variety of cultures such as Italian and Indian.  The recent resurgence of the trend is probably based on a creative chef’s desire to add a twist to a dish.

What are the benefits of adding vegetables to desserts?

Additional vitamins, antioxidants and fiber in your diet
Helps get you and your family your five servings of daily vegetables
Interesting, new flavor combinations
In some instances, a crunchier texture, a nice change for dessert
For baked goods, vegetables can add moistness to the dessert

Author of The Sneaky Chef, Missy Chase Lapine, has built a successful business based on the idea of hiding healthy foods, often in the form of purees, in kids’ meals. The idea of adding healthy foods in unexpected places is backed by solid findings. According to a Penn State study, research shows that preschoolers consumed twice as many vegetables and 11% fewer calories just by eating their favorite foods, enhanced with fruits and vegetables.

Types of easy desserts using vegetables:

1. Baked: cakes, muffins and cookies. Check out this recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies.
2. Prepared: puddings, ice cream and Icy Hot Chocolate, to name a few.
3. Raw: Carrot “Cake” is a great example. Find a delicious recipe here.

How to use vegetables for healthier desserts:

When you’re just starting, it’s advisable to follow healthy food recipes for desserts. You can find a variety of dessert recipes that include vegetables online.
As you become more familiar with the art of preparing desserts with vegetables and legumes, you can start to modify recipes yourself.
Invest in a good cookbook or conversion guide for assistance.
Be creative and have fun. Turn the challenge of making fun desserts into a family activity!

Hints for healthy food recipes using vegetables:

Look for flavor combinations that offset each other for better taste. For example, in Beet-Berry Cakes, the earthy, distinct taste of the beet is subdued by the sweetness of the berries.
Seek out recipes where vegetables are steamed or added raw to keep fat to a minimum and increase nutritional value.
Consider texture, taste and smell when incorporating vegetables into desserts. Spinach Brownies might smell and taste fine, but the texture of raw or steamed spinach might not be appetizing to you or your kids.

Even if dessert ideas like Parsnip Pudding or Turnip Tarts doesn’t sound appetizing initially, experiment with some recipes and you just might find a new way to sneak veggies into your family’s diet.  Enjoy!

Be Wize & Be Healthy

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Keeping Your Brain Young

Maintaining brain health is an important aspect of overall healthy aging. While the brain ages naturally, there are steps you can take to help assist with keeping your mind healthy and sharp.

Steps to keep your brain young:

According to, the following can help you maintain a healthy brain.

Stimulate your mind. Read, take courses, or engage in crafts, especially those that require hand-eye coordination, such as drawing or knitting.
Socialize with others or play with a pet. Studies show interaction with others is helpful in maintaining a healthy brain.
Engage in physical activity. Exercise has been proven to help you think clearly, aids in the development of new nerve cells, increases oxygen to the brain, and enhances helpful brain chemicals.
Choose a healthy diet.

Eating to keep your brain young:

1. A reduced caloric intake has been linked to a lower risk of mental decline.

2. Gets enough of the Bs. Consuming folic acid, B6 and B12 has been linked to a lower likelihood of developing dementia.  Foods such as leafy green vegetables, garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, and chicken contains vitamin Bs.

3. Eat eggs. They’re a great source of protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin D, all great nutrients for your brain. Eggs are also packed with choline, which is essential to memory.

4. Consume omega-3 fatty acids. Found in fatty fish, omega-3s help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Individuals with higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have less of a risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.

5. Eat more berries. Strawberries and blueberries are high in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and protect brain cells from stress.

Mind exercise to keep your brain young:

Like your body, your brain needs to be exercised, strengthened, and challenged to remain young, according to Here are some examples of mind exercises to try:

Practice mnemonic devices. Pronounced “nemonic,” these exercises are clues that help with memorization. An example is visual imaging, associating an image with a word or name to remember. When you meet someone whose last name sounds like bird, find a way to associate that person with a bird, and you’ll have an easier time remembering the name. For more mnemonic devices, check out this link
Laugh. Laughter engages multiple regions across the brain, which is beneficial to brain health. In addition, listening to jokes and anticipating punch lines activates areas of the brain involved with learning.
Step out of your routine. Simply driving home by taking a different route or performing your daily tasks in a different manner can be beneficial to your mind.

Additional tips for maintaining a healthy brain:

Focus. Pay attention when learning something new or performing a task.
See it, hear it, and write it. Similar to how you learned when you were in school, the more ways you experience an idea, the more likely you are to remember it.
Learn in intervals. Don’t cram information into your brain, as many students do before exams. Instead, review what you’re trying to remember and rehearse it at different intervals. This style of absorbing information helps the brain process and retain better.

Experts agree that by following these simple steps, you can help keep your brain young, reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and stay sharp for many years to come.

Live Healthy & Live Smart

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fast Dinners for the Busy and Frazzled

Recently, I’ve written about fast and easy meals for breakfast and lunch, and dinner can just as simple! At the end of a busy workday, the drive-through is tempting. And grabbing takeout is so much easier than making a meal at home. But don’t give up: with a little forethought, you can enjoy yummy dinners with little prep and even less guilt.

If you are not a fabulous cook, don’t worry: there are simple meals you can make, even if you don’t know the difference between a tablespoon and a serving spoon. So let’s dig in and get to the good stuff!

The three part approach. Dinner doesn’t have to be complex. So use a simple formula: protein, vegetable w/fat, and starch. You might choose to throw chicken thighs on the grill (protein), make small side salads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (vegetable w/fat), and add a couple of corn cobs to the grill (starch). If you aren’t someone who loves to grill, how about baked pork chops, microwaved frozen vegetables with butter, and a side of basmati rice? These meals will take very little time, and you’ll enjoy the payoff.

One-skillet meals. And no, these don’t have to be a boxed meal! Toss some cubed chicken in a hot skillet with some coconut oil. When the chicken is cooked through, add a bag of frozen (or fresh) vegetables of your choice. Stir until the vegetables are cooked, then add some leftover white or brown rice, and cook until all is hot. Add some soy sauce, and you’ve got a stir-fry. And there are so many one-skillet options (check some out here, here, and here).

Manage your time. I’ve been caught off-guard several times, when work demands outwitted my time management. By taking an hour or two on your day off, you can prepare a meal that you can pop in the freezer for later that week. You might consider meal-planning services, which can make eating healthier a little easier.

Keep a list of emergency go-to’s. Sometimes when we give up and get fast food, it derails our healthy plan for the rest of the week. But it doesn’t have to! Healthy options are out there, even on the go! Look for restaurants like Chipotle, Muscle Maker Grill, even Subway. Ethnic restaurants often provide vegetable-laden dishes that you can swing by and pick up. While making food at home may be ideal, some moments in life don’t allow us the time. So rather than get frustrated and eat junk food, grab something healthy and enjoy!

Don’t forget to check out my post about crockpots for more easy dinner ideas, and you can always swap breakfast or lunch ideas for dinner! 

Schedules get busy, and the challenge of eating healthy can seem impossible. But with some planning, you can embrace eating healthy while still living your life. So don’t give up! And let us know in the comments what works best for you and your family.

Contributing Writer

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Importance of the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is a system of the body that’s often overlooked. Yet, it plays an important role in the function of the immune system, aiding the body in fighting infection, diseases and more. Read on to learn more about this important system, how to keep it functioning properly and signs it’s not working.

What is the lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system, also called the lymph system, is a system of the body composed of clear, watery fluid, called lymph.

How does the lymph system function?

By collecting fluid, debris and other things in the body’s tissue, the system helps the body fight against infection, viruses, bacteria and fungi.  In addition, proper drainage of the lymphatic system prohibits swelling from occurring in the body. The system plays an important role in immune system function.

Where is the lymphatic system located?

The lymphatic system is located throughout the body. Organs that contain lymphoid tissue include:

Lymph nodes
Bone marrow

What are lymph nodes?

Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped glands located throughout the lymph system, which filter harmful substances from the body. They tend to cluster in regions throughout the body. Large clusters of lymph nodes are in the armpits, neck and groin areas.  Swollen lymph nodes most often are a sign of infection. The most common reason for swollen lymph nodes in the neck is viral upper respiratory infections, typically associated with the common cold.

What diseases are associated with the lymphatic system?

According to,

Lymphadenopathy: A condition that causes swollen or enlarged lymph nodes due to a nearby infection. Throat infections, for instance, can cause swollen glands in the neck. The swelling usually subsides once the infection is properly treated.

Lymphadenitis: This ailment is usually caused by a bacterial infection. The disorder is treated with antibiotics.

Lymphomas: A type of cancer that starts in the lymph nodes.

Splenomegaly: This disorder is also known as an enlarged spleen. It is typically caused by a viral infection such as mononucleosis.  In rare cases, the cause is cancer.

Tonsillitis: An infection of the tonsils, the lymph tissue in the back of the mouth at the top of the throat. It is usually associated with a sore throat, fever and difficulty swallowing. Repeated incidents of tonsillitis may require the removal of the tonsils, a tonsillectomy.

How can you keep the lymphatic system functioning properly?

Experts suggest exercise helps keep the lymph system working properly. In some instances, slant boards or inversion units are used. These devices allow you to hang upside down, stimulating the lymph system. Finally, a procedure called lymphatic drainage may be used in rare cases, such as for lymphedema.

What is lymphatic drainage?

Lymphatic drainage is a hands-on procedure, similar to massage, that encourages movement of stalled lymph in the body. As with any treatment, always speak to your health provider before undergoing lymphatic drainage.

Where can you learn more?

Visit or for additional information on this system.

Be Wize and Be Healthy
- FamilyWize