Debunking Medical Myths

Debunking Medical Myths

Nearly every day, there are news stories about “breakthroughs,” “scientific findings” and “promising research.” There are also countless online medical resources, including many that publish unproven medical myths. With so much information out there of varying degrees of quality and accuracy, it can be very difficult to decipher the facts from fiction when it comes to women’s health and wellness. So, what’s the best way to determine the truth in medical headlines and online medical information? Here are a few tips to help guide you to the truth.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions

With increasing health-related headlines and news, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. What was once reported to be healthy can quickly be debunked and deemed downright risky. Before you make medical decisions based on a specific study or website, it’s important to consider that not all online medical information is significant or even valid.

Learn What Makes a Study Trustworthy

Not sure how to determine the validity or importance of a study? You will want to look at two key factors that can determine its reliability. First, it should be a randomized controlled trial. And, the study results should be published in an established journal such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association or Lancet.

Rely on Reliable Health Information Websites

The Northwell Health site is a valuable source of accurate healthcare information. As well, the National Institutes of Health website is a trustworthy source for health information. Be leery of websites that are primarily testimonials or personal stories. Not everyone experiences health-related issues the same way. In other words, one person’s experience is not as compelling as clinical research.

Talk to Your Doctor

Most importantly, discuss any health or wellness issues with your healthcare provider. Don’t stop medication or treatment just because you saw a compelling report on a news channel. It’s important to talk to your doctor to determine if the study does apply to you and if it is reliable.

Do you have medical or healthcare questions? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here with the latest information and facts. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

holiday eating

Smart Holiday Eating Strategies

Favorite childhood memories often involve enjoying the sweets and treats of the holidays. While they’re still just as delicious when we indulge in them as adults, they can lead to unwanted, post-holiday weight gain. Navigating the dinners, desserts, parties and drinks that often go hand-in-hand with holiday celebrations can be challenging for even the most disciplined eaters. This is why many gain post-holiday pounds. One way to maintain a healthy weight throughout the year is to have smart holiday eating strategies for keeping calories in check throughout the holiday season.

“Often it’s a matter of doing simple things like not going to a party hungry that can help you avoid over-indulging during the holidays,” says Marissa Licata, MS, RD, CDN, nutritionist with the Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “While it’s always good to substitute healthier foods for richer holiday fare, making strategic decisions about how and when you eat during the holidays can make a big difference.” Licata suggests a variety of strategies for managing calorie consumption throughout the holidays. These include:

Don’t Skip Meals

We can all get busy decking the halls, shopping for gifts and getting together with friends and family. Yet, we still require the same level of nutrients during the holidays as we do the rest of the year. By ensuring we eat balanced breakfasts and lunches, we can greatly reduce our desire to overeat during a holiday event or meal.

Eat before a Party

It can be tempting to avoid eating during the day because you know they’ll be plenty of good food at a party. The reality is arriving at a celebration with an empty stomach is a surefire way to excessively snack (and be negatively impacted by the effects of alcohol). Before the party, eat a small healthy snack that will keep your appetite in check and you on track for eating right.

Bring Something Healthy to a Potluck

Making something for a potluck event is a wonderful way to showcase your culinary skills. This year, make it a point to whip up something healthy and flavorful. Not only will other party attendees appreciate your efforts, you’ll have a healthy option if your only other choices are cheese-laden spinach dip and pigs in a blanket.

Stand Away from the Buffet Table

It can be tempting to grab a handful of nuts or reach for that last canape, but you know they amount to empty calories that you don’t need. Don’t increase your temptation by standing close to the buffet. Instead, make a single trip through the line and eat only the items on your plate.

Carefully Select Your Buffet Offerings

Don’t make a seven-layer dip of everything on the buffet line. Choose only the items that you really enjoy and savor each bite. Loading a slab of prime rib on top of a collection of mini quiches, cocktail shrimp and chicken skewers will leave you feeling full and may keep you up all night with heartburn. Moderation is your friend!

Be Careful of Calorie-Laden Beverages

For many, holiday cheer involves a beverage or two. Yet, it’s very easy to consume hundreds of empty calories without even being aware of it. If you’re trying to keep weight in check throughout the season, you will want to avoid high calorie beverages like egg nog and high fat coffee drinks. Smarter options include wine spritzers, light beers, herbal teas, or even mineral water with a twist of lemon.

Stick to Your Exercise Schedule

Your calendar is booked, and you still have gifts to buy and trees to trim. During the holiday season, we’re all pressed for time, and scheduling exercise can seem next to impossible. Yet, exercise is not only necessary for keeping weight in check, it’s also a great stress reliever during this hectic time of year.

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about nutrition and healthy eating. For more information or to schedule an appointment with our nutritionist, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Managing diabetes

Managing Diabetes – Don’t Let Sweetness Be Your Weakness

Many consider diabetes to be like a roller coaster with significant ups and downs, but you have the choice to be fearful or to enjoy the ride. When it comes to diabetes management, living a productive happy life is possible, but it requires a consistent effort to keep your blood sugar levels in check by making healthy lifestyle decisions.

Getting Screened for Diabetes

The first step is diagnosis. Nearly one-third of those with diabetes don’t know they have the condition (source: CDC). Because there are often few or no symptoms of type 2 diabetes, early screening is essential to avoid developing complications of the disease which include damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels. Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) need to be screened every three years. All adults need to be screened at 40. For those who have diabetes risk factors, screening should start at an earlier age and happen more frequently (USPTF). Risk factors include:

  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Family history of diabetes (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or siblings with the condition)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Race/ethnicity (African-American, Hispanic-American, Native American, Asian-American or Pacific Islander)
  • High blood pressure (equal to or greater than 140/90)
  • History of impaired fasting glucose or gestational diabetes

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to know you’re not alone. Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and another 86 million have prediabetes with blood sugar levels that are higher than normal (source: CDC).

Healthy Eating for Life

Well-balanced meals are fundamental in keeping your blood sugar levels within the range recommended by your doctor and for living a long, healthy life – whether or not you have been diagnosed with diabetes. This requires knowing how food impacts your blood sugar levels. This includes the type, quantity and combinations of foods that you eat.

“If you are at risk of diabetes or have already received a diagnosis, having a consultation with a registered dietitian can be very beneficial in helping you on the right path,” says Marissa Licata, Registered Dietitian at Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “Diabetes isn’t just about avoiding sugar. It’s about being able to plan healthy meals, coordinating meals and medications and learning how to count carbohydrates and measure portion sizes.”

The Daily Routine

Along with eating healthy, there are other healthy lifestyle habits you can adopt which can help you manage your blood sugar levels. These include:

Exercising Regularly – When you stay active, your muscles use sugar for energy, and your body uses insulin more efficiently.

Following Medication Guidelines – Insulin and other medications may be prescribed if diet and exercise alone are not enough to manage your diabetes. Their effectiveness depends on the timing and size of their dose.

Managing Stress – Hormones produced in response to stress can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. It’s important to learn strategies for coping with stress in your everyday life.

Staying Informed – The more you know about your condition and what can affect your blood sugar levels, the better you can anticipate and manage fluctuations.

“When it comes to managing diabetes, the key is not to let it have you,” says Alyson Myers, MD, Medical Director, Inpatient Diabetes, North Shore University Hospital. “It’s vital to stay focused on day-to-day factors that affect your blood sugar levels. This means healthy eating, getting physical activity, taking prescribed medications, sticking to a regular sleep schedule and seeing your doctor on a regular basis.”

Join Us on the evening of November 16th for an important Katz Institute for Women’s Health (KIWH) Women’s Wellness event: Diabetes – Don’t Let Sweetness Be Your Weakness.

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about diabetes. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Preventive Women’s Health Steps through the Decades

Preventive Women’s Health Steps through the Decades

During National Women’s Health Week, we’re focusing on how women can take charge of their health. As women, we are the primary caregivers for our families, and it’s important that we make our health and wellness a priority so that we can continue to take care of others.

When we’re young, it’s easy to take good health for granted. Few of us ever consider the possibility of getting a serious illness until one strikes. Yet, preventive steps throughout our lives can have a very significant impact on our health—particularly as we get older. In other words, it’s necessary to start making smart health decisions as early as in our twenties. By doing so, we can prevent many problems from happening down the road.

“Knowledge about prevention strategies and having a doctor that you partner with over time is your best defense against heart disease, stroke and many other conditions,” says Dr. Stacey Rosen, cardiologist and vice-president of Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “Taking small steps now can help prevent many of the most common conditions we see with aging.”

The following preventive women’s health tips are some of the basics for staying healthy for life.

In Your 20s
Whether you’re finishing up your education, launching a career, starting a family or tackling it all at once, the twenties are a busy decade for most women. It’s common to put off health goals and preventive care for another day. However, what you do now sets the foundation for your health throughout your life. Now is the time to establish good exercise and eating habits while ensuring you get an annual well-woman visit. A few important goals to shoot for, include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Check blood pressure
  • Talk to your doctor about birth control, plans for pregnancy and your risk for sexually transmitted infections
  • Get 30 minutes of physical activity most days
  • Quit or stop smoking
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Get an annual flu shot and any necessary immunizations
  • Get help for stress, depression or other mental health issues

In Your 30s
During your thirties, it’s common to be juggling family and work obligations. Stress and sleep disturbances are common. Along with continuing the healthy preventive health habits listed above, it’s more important during this decade to strive for six to eight hours of sleep each night and to incorporate strategies for reducing daily stress, such as meditation or yoga. Some other important steps to take, include:

  • Talk to your doctor about cholesterol and any history of heart problems
  • Talk to your doctor about your family history of cancers and whether early screening is necessary

In Your 40s
Weight gain and muscle loss are common in your 40s. Try to incorporate regular total-body workouts if you haven’t done so already. It’s also a busy decade with family and career obligations, so it’s essential to prevent your health needs from slipping to the bottom of your priority list. Additional steps this decade, include:

  • Have an annual mammogram starting at age 40
  • Talk to your doctor about menopause and how often you need a pelvic exam and a Pap test
  • Get a skin exam as a baseline to check for skin cancers

In Your 50s and 60s
Women in their 50s and 60s are more active than ever. These are the years when healthy habits earlier in life really start to pay off. To continue down a healthy path, it’s important to continue healthy habits like exercise and a balanced diet, along with staying up-to-date on screenings and tests, including:

  • Mammogram
  • Colonoscopy
  • Blood sugar
  • Cholesterol
  • Bone density

In Your 70s and Beyond
Although physiological changes occur with age that can slow you down, many women are living happy, vibrant lives well into their 90s! “Women who have sustained healthy lifestyles throughout life are often substantially healthier and more active than those who haven’t exercised and eaten well,” says Dr. Rosen.

So, what are strategies to take to stay healthy as long as possible? Here are a few to support physical and mental health.

  • Continue to make healthful lifestyle choices—don’t smoke, eat right and reduce stress
  • Maintain a positive outlook
  • Stay active both mentally and physically
  • Take safety precautions
  • Continue to see your doctor and follow recommended guidelines for screening and preventive measures

It’s a fact that many medical conditions, including heart attack, stroke, dementia, diabetes and some types of cancer increase with age. However, healthy lifestyle choices can substantially reduce the risk of them occurring. And, the good news is that it’s never too early or late to start making positive changes.

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about staying healthy for life. For more information, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

What You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

As women, when we think of cancer, breast cancer is usually what first comes to mind. However, colorectal cancer is also a leading type of cancer that is diagnosed in approximately 4.4% of women in the United States (source: American Cancer Society). While there is no surefire way to prevent colorectal cancer, there are a number of ways that you can lower your risk.

Screening
Regular colorectal cancer screening is an incredibly important way to prevent colorectal cancer. Abnormal cells that grow into polyps can take about 10 to 15 years to develop into colorectal cancer. With regular screening beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75, most polyps can be found and removed before they have the opportunity to become cancerous. Screening can also find early stage colorectal cancer which is highly curable.

Screening is recommended every 10 years. Women at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer, such as those with a family history of the disease, are encouraged to start screening at a younger age, and may need testing at a more frequent interval. The decision to be screened after the age of 75 should be discussed with your physician.

The recommended screening test is a colonoscopy which involves using a flexible, lighted tube (colonoscope) to look at the interior walls of the rectum and the entire colon. Sedation is used to minimize discomfort during the procedure. Polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy, and results from a biopsy are available in five to seven days.

“Many women put off getting a colonoscopy because they are fearful of the test itself or the results,” says Dr. Bethany DeVito, Director of the GI Health Center for Women. “Yet, it is a fast, simple procedure that offers the best prevention, with a less than one percent chance of complications.”

Diet and Exercise
It may be possible to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by avoiding obesity and weight gain around the midsection. Physical activity is beneficial, as well as a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Studies have shown a link between red meats and processed meats (like lunch meats, hot dogs and sausages) and increased colorectal cancer risk. Thus, it’s wise to keep meat consumption to a minimum. An increased level of activity, such as regular workouts or even brisk walking, can also lower your chance of developing colorectal cancer and polyps.

“A healthy diet, along with screening, can greatly reduce your risk of developing this disease,” says Dr. DeVito. “By eating a primarily plant-based diet, you can reduce your risk even if you have a family history of colon cancer.”

Don’t Smoke
There is plenty of evidence to show that there is a link between long-term smoking and colorectal cancer, as well as many other types of cancers and health problems. This is yet another reason to take the initiative to quit the habit.

Nutritional Supplements
Along with a healthy diet and exercise, a daily multivitamin containing folic acid may be helpful in reducing colorectal cancer risk. Some studies have shown that calcium, vitamin D and magnesium might offer some protection against the disease.

Although not all risk factors are under your control, taking the proactive step to get screened for colorectal cancer is the best way to reduce your chance of developing colorectal cancer.

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about early detection of colorectal cancer. For more information, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Making Time for Healthy Eating

With Americans eating fewer than 70 percent of their meals at home (source: U.S.D.A.) and the current obesity epidemic, signs are definitely pointing to a need for a fundamental change in how we eat. Many experts, including Marissa Licata, MS, RD, CDN, nutritionist with the Katz Institute for Women’s Health, believe that bringing back the home-cooked meal, combined with making healthy food choices, can offer significant health advantages.

“We all need to slow down and enjoy the pleasure of food,” says Marissa. “By taking time for meals and making food shopping and preparation an important part of our life, we tend to make better choices when it comes to what we eat and how much we consume.”

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has named March “National Nutrition Month,” and this year’s theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” The organization wants to educate the public on the importance of making informed eating choices and the pleasure of experimenting with bold and exciting ingredients to create healthy, delicious meals.

The Benefits of the Home Cooked Meal
There is plenty of evidence that indicates that home cooked meals are not only more satisfying, but also have fewer calories and more nutrients. While it takes effort to shop for and prepare meals, the benefits are substantial. It begins with making a commitment to bringing back meals to the table. Marissa offers some simple tips to help you make this happen.

Establish Meal Time
Start by creating a space to sit down together for meals. If your dining room table has become your home office or where you stack your bills, it’s time to reclaim it for meals. Next, make a set meal time with no phones, texting or TV. Get into the habit of setting the table for each meal.

Organize Your Kitchen
With your new plan for meals, it’s a great time to rid your kitchen of unhealthy foods, such as those containing high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated fats. Fill your pantry and refrigerator with fresh, whole foods that you can mix and match to prepare a variety of meals. Don’t be afraid of trying new ingredients like spices and herbs. These can enable you to ramp up the taste of your dishes while offering health benefits.

Think Ahead
Planning meals and shopping can be family activities that will communicate to children the importance of healthy eating. Consider making meals at the start of the week that you can heat up to save time on especially busy days. A little advanced planning can go a long way when it comes to healthy eating.

Enjoy the Pleasure of Food
With our busy schedules, it’s understandable why so many of us eat too fast. This often leads to overeating because our brains take approximately 20 minutes to get the signal from our stomachs that we’ve eaten enough. Mealtime should be when we sit down and focus on family and food. Slow down, savor each bite, concentrate on the flavors and textures you’re putting into your mouth and stay in the present. Not only will you enjoy your food more, you’ll tend to eat less.

One of the most powerful ways to care for yourself and your family is eating home-cooked meals. With a little planning and a commitment to healthy eating, you may find that mealtime becomes your favorite time of the day.

The Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to support you with your nutritional goals. For more information on nutrition, please call 516-881-7060 or email womensnutrition@northwell.edu. For other women’s health related questions, please contact the KIWH Resource Center at: 855-850-KIWH (5494).

Stay Healthy and In the Game

When you think of someone suffering an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, you’re likely to envision a professional football player sidelined for the season. Yet, the reality is that female athletes of all ages injure their ACLs up to eight times more often than male athletes. Much of this has to do with the female anatomy. With wider pelvises, smaller ACLs, less muscle strength and greater range of motion, women are at a significantly higher risk of sustaining this common knee injury.

A torn ACL isn’t the only concern for active women. In fact, there are a number of sports-related conditions that women are susceptible to. General awareness and simple preventive measures can pay big dividends when it comes to maintaining good physical health and preventing sports-related injuries and illnesses.

“By conditioning and building the right muscle groups, you can greatly reduce your risk of ACL tears and other injuries,” says Dr. Joshua Steinvurzel, orthopaedic surgeon at Northwell Health’s Orthopaedic Associates. “This includes focusing specifically on inner thigh strength to prevent knee injuries and building core strength to help ward off back pain and specific injuries caused from the repetitive twisting of sports like tennis and golf.”

Overuse Injuries
The nature of athletic competition is to push through physical boundaries and to even ignore discomfort, summed up in the old adage, “No pain, no gain.” Yet for many women, it is often their ability to subdue pain signals from the brain that leads to overuse injuries. With certain activities like running, tennis or golf, continual overuse and repetitive motions can cause muscle and connective tissue damage. Many women athletes try to push through the pain which often makes the injury worse and the recovery time longer. The solution is to learn to listen to your body. Your pain is trying to tell you something. Some common overuse injuries to particularly watch out for as women include stress fractures and tendinitis.

The Female Athlete Triad
As sports have become more competitive, there has been an increase in female athlete triad. This complex, multi-faceted training disorder involves three distinct conditions – an eating disorder, amenorrhea (irregular or absent menstruation) and resulting low bone mass or osteoporosis. For some women, the desire to excel in athletics leads to excessive dieting and compulsive exercise. This results in low body weight and a drop in estrogen production. The consequence of the hormone loss can be decreased bone mineral density and premature osteopathic fractures. In some cases, the lost bone mineral density can never be regained. Prevention of the female athlete triad through education and screening is essential.

Injury Prevention
There are women athletes of all ages. An important strategy to being able to stay active throughout your life is to take proactive steps in preventing injury. These include:

  • -Train conservatively and don’t over-do it
  • -Stop any activity or exercise that is causing you pain
  • -Take time to recover between workouts
  • -Never skip a warm-up
  • -Use proper equipment such as the correct footwear and protective gear
  • -Stay flexible with regular stretching, yoga or pilates
  • -Seek medical attention for injuries
  • -Consult with your doctor before starting any new sport or exercise program

The Katz Institute for Women’s Health is the preferred healthcare provider for many women athletes, with specialized programs to help them achieve their sports and fitness goals. For more information, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

5 Ways to Embrace Happiness in 2016!

Good news! Happiness not only feels good, but it’s good for you!

In the last decade, there has been significant research on the benefits of having a positive outlook on life. Through the collection of empirical data, psychologists and scientists have repeatedly found that optimistic, grateful individuals experience better mental and physical health, including lower blood pressure and improved immune function.

While regular exercise and eating a balanced diet are necessary for sustaining good health throughout life, it’s also important to remember that happiness can make a big difference when it comes to your overall well-being.

“I definitely recommend to my patients to seek out opportunities to enjoy life,” says Dr. Stacey Rosen, Vice President, Women’s Health, the Katz Institute for Women’s Health and a practicing cardiologist and echocardiographer. “There is increasing evidence that there are very real health benefits to staying connected and helping others. Happiness and a sense of purpose are incredibly important for individuals to stay healthy and to promote healing in those recovering from illness or injury.”

Be Grateful
It can be beneficial to regularly take a moment to reflect on what you have to be grateful for or to even create a “good things” journal that you use to write down the positive events and happenings that you can go back and read when you’re feeling a little down or defeated.

Give More to Get More
It’s a simple fact that lending a hand can make you feel good, and increasingly, experts believe that it may have long-lasting health benefits that could potentially add years to your life. In a UnitedHealth Group 2013 health and volunteering study of more than 3,300 U.S. adults who volunteer on a regular basis, more than 75 percent reported that the act of giving their time to help others lowered their levels of stress and led them to feel better. And, there’s an actual biochemical explanation for this: giving back releases endorphins, the brain’s natural painkillers.

Declutter and Simplify
Do you feel overwhelmed by disarray in your garage, closet or kitchen? One of the most popular and widely discussed books of 2015, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, shares methods for decluttering and the impact that an organized home can have on mood and physical and mental health. While this minimalistic approach isn’t for everyone, getting rid of the extra “stuff” that adds chaos to daily life can be a surprisingly simple way to feel happier and less anxious.

Forgive Yourself
It is easy to feel guilty for indulging in a decadent dessert or missing a workout. Yet, the reality is we’re all human, and we all stray from our goals from time to time. The key is to not get frustrated or defeated by minor setbacks.

“Don’t be your worst enemy,” says Dr. Rosen. “You may have chosen the french fries instead of the carrot sticks one day, but every day is a chance to start again. By doing the best you can and accepting the fact that there might be an occasional slip, you can eliminate a great deal of negativity that can be detrimental to your overall health.”

Keep It Simple
The media is quick to tout the next “super food” or the up-and-coming exercise craze that can help you melt the pounds away. You’re not alone if you feel at least a little stress over trying to keep up with the latest and greatest when it comes to exercise and diet. However, there is still tremendous value in simple healthy actions such as going for a walk, getting a good night sleep or spending quality time with a child or elderly family member. Many of us have been conditioned to overthink what we need to do to stay healthy and feel good. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that feel the best and deliver the most impact.

In 2016, the Katz Institute for Women’s Health will continue to be here as your healthcare provider, with many new exciting programs, events and opportunities to help you achieve health and wellness in the coming year. For more information, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.