Which diet is best for you?

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Thanksgiving’s next week, which means that many of us will probably find ourselves torn between eating clean and having another serving of pumpkin pie.

It’s one thing to have a plan, but sometimes convenience, money, and time get in the way of which kinds of food we have access to. This means that many successful diets are a matter of sticking to general guidelines rather than eating a specific set of foods. For most people at most times, being ultra-strict about a diet is less important paying attention to what we eat and how much we exercise. Those factors will do more for our health and well being than any single factor or superfood will.

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Could Berkeley’s new soda tax save thousands of lives?

SODA

Last week, a stunning 75% of voters in Berkeley, California elected to pass a tax on soda. The measure aims to reduce the rate of sugar consumption in response to nationally rising rates of obesity and diabetes. Similar legislation was proposed but not passed in San Francisco, where soda companies spent millions of dollars lobbying against the measure and even propped up fake protest groups to discourage voters from passing the soda tax.

Sweetened drinks are the primary source of added sugar in the American diet and greatly contribute to health complications related to obesity and diabetes. For the past twenty or so years, soda was actually more popular than water among Americans, and its widespread consumption has caused numerous health complications. A HealthAffairs study suggests that a soda tax of just one cent per ounce (like the one passed in Berkeley) could prevent 95,000 coronary events, 8,000 strokes, and 26,000 premature deaths over a span of just ten years.

Voters and legislators alike hope this tax will open discussions around the country about the health costs of excessive sugar consumption, and perhaps shed light on how soft drink companies use tactics developed by tobacco companies to sell sodas while minimizing their deleterious effects on our health. If anti-soda legislation becomes a trend, it’s likely to run into the same problems posed when trying to reduce smoking in the last half century, including: resentment over federally imposed sin taxes, counter-science funded and published by sugar lobbyists, and a sobering look at the consequences of what we consume.

It seems outlandish to consider that this tax opens the door for further restrictions and even bans on soda, but remember that cigarettes used to be included in military rations until about 30 years ago even though we’d consider such a thing ridiculous today.

Excessive soda drinking can have negative health consequences, but is a tax going too far? Is a ban sure to follow? Let us know how you feel on our Facebook page.

NurseCore kicks off Home Healthcare & Hospice Month

care

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has selected the month of November to honor the nurses, home care aides, therapists, social workers, and other caregivers who touch the lives of homebound patients.

Approximately 12 million Americans receive care from more than 33,000 providers annually, making home healthcare an invaluable part of our health care system. These home care providers help society’s most vulnerable members through medical or nonmedical care, grooming, assisting with activities of daily living, running errands, and providing meals – among other tasks which patients are otherwise unable to perform for themselves.

Hospice workers care for terminally ill patients, providing them with specifically tailored, individualized treatment plans that manage painful symptoms. They also offer the invaluable service of comforting patients and their loved ones during these stages of life, giving them a sense of peace and closure through medical, emotional, and spiritual care. Hospice care reaffirms the human right of patients and their families to fully participate in the final stages of life.

Home healthcare workers give so much of their time and energy in such a selfless and inspiring way. This month is a great chance to appreciate their compassion for others, and to follow their example by using your strengths to care for those less fortunate than yourself.

NurseCore CEO/President Deborah Lollar at Camp Blue Skies

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Camp Blue Skies was founded to provide a recreational and educational experience for adults with intellectual disabilities. NurseCore CEO/President Deborah Lollar is close friends with the founder of Camp Blue Skies, and has been volunteering with the organization for over five years. She has just returned from their latest trip in North Carolina, which she considered a “life-changing experience” and a fantastic opportunity to give to give back to her community.

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Can We Fight SAD With Vitamin D?

It’s getting colder, and the days are shorter.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of mood disorder that happens when the seasons change. It’s classified as a seasonal pattern by the DSM-5, a general phenomenon that sees people become moodier and more tired as they go into the winter months.

SAD

Our circadian rhythm already undergoes changes due to the shorter daylight hours, which affects our sleep and mood by altering our summertime levels of melatonin and serotonin. The thicker, warmer clothes we wear also block the skin from getting enough sunlight, which interferes with its ability to produce vitamin D – a vitamin that 75% of Americans are deficient for.

Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to poorer immune systems, weaker bones, chronic fatigue, and possibly mental health complications in the forms of depression, dementia, and schizophrenia. This might reflect a societal bent towards staying indoors and not receiving adequate amounts of natural light, since all it takes is about 15 minutes of direct sun exposure on your face, arms, and legs to fulfill your daily requirements for the D. Longer periods of indirect exposure (i.e., you sitting in the shade) will still meet your needs while minimizing your exposure to UV radiation.

The good news is that vitamin D deficiencies are easily corrected (supplementation is cheap, sunlight is free) and may yield some pretty cool ancillary benefits as well. Athletes from the Northern UK, a perpetually overcast region that receives little sunlight, supplemented with vitamin D demonstrated faster sprint times and higher vertical jumps. Even non-athletes who took vitamin D managed to increase their performance in sprinting and jumping over eight weeks.

I’d also invite you to take a look at your daily schedule. During the peak of summertime, sunset in Dallas didn’t happen until about 9:00 p.m. sometimes; today it’ll happen closer to 7:00 p.m. – which means that everyone’s experiencing what is essentially low-grade jet lag while this new light/temperature thing is being figured out. I’d ask you to let us know what you think on our Facebook page, but maybe you should get some sleep instead.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Aaaaand you're yawning.

…aaaaaand you’re yawning.

Adults require 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night, but rarely get it due to increasing demands from work, school, and misguided Netflix marathons. Here are some tips to help you get your sleep schedule back on track.

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