DHEC wants you to give mom the gift of good health

By Adrianna Bradley

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages you to give your mom the gift of good health.

Most moms will appreciate a Mother’s Day gift that will make her happy, and help keep her in your life for a long time.  Start a new “healthy Mother’s Day” tradition this year.

Try dark chocolate this year

Giving sweet treats is a traditional way to show your mom how much you care.  Consider giving your mother dark chocolate this year. Dark chocolate, in moderation, has many health benefits.  It is good for your heart and brain to name a few.  Eating small amounts of dark chocolate, about 1 ounce two to three times a week, can help lower blood pressure and improve cognitive function.  It may help reduce the risk of stroke as well. Remember, that chocolate is also high in fat.  Serve it along with other treats like fresh strawberries, grapes or bananas.

Help mom improve her heart health

Give the gift of heart health.  Fill her gift basket with items that will help her become more physically active.  Add a pedometer, arm weights, a yoga DVD, fitness club membership, or a cute workout outfit.

If you’re still at a loss for things to give mom, give her gifts that will help her get a good night’s sleep.  Our moms stay busy.  Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important as eating health and staying active.  Lack of sleep has been linked to serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Consider buying nice bedding, and encourage your mother to turn off the computer, smart phone, and lights, and go to bed an hour earlier each night.

Put on your chef’s hat

Lastly, pamper your mom on her special day.  Put on your apron and chef’s hat.  Prepare a brunch that she is sure to love.  Try one of the heart healthy recipes below for a new twist on pancakes and muffins below.  These foods are a healthy way to satisfy her sweet tooth without sacrificing her health.

Whole-grain Strawberry Pancakes

(Adapted from USDA)

Ingredients

Whole Grain Strawberry Pancakes

Attribution: USDA

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 container vanilla low-fat yogurt (6 oz)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 container strawberry low-fat yogurt (6 oz)

Preparation

  1. Heat griddle to 375°F or heat 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Grease with canola oil if necessary (or spray with cooking spray before heating).
  2. In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In medium bowl, beat eggs, vanilla yogurt, water and oil with egg beater or wire whisk until well blended.
  4. Pour egg mixture all at once into flour mixture; stir until moistened.
  5. For each pancake, pour slightly less than 1/4 cup batter from cup or pitcher onto hot griddle. Cook pancakes 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbly on top, puffed and dry around edges. Turn; cook other sides 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Top each serving (2 pancakes) with 1/4 cup sliced strawberries and 1 to 2 tablespoons strawberry yogurt.

Pineapple Carrot Muffins

(Adapted from Cooking Matters)

Ingredients 

Pineapple Carrot Muffins

Attribution: Cooking Matters

  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 cup canned crushed pineapple with juice
  • 5 Tablespoons canola oil
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    Rinse and peel a carrot. Shred with a grater. Measure out ¾ cup shredded carrot.
    3. In a medium bowl, add pineapple with juice, oil, water, vinegar and shredded carrot. Mix with a fork to combine.
    4. In a large bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Blend well with a fork to break up any lumps.
    5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
    6. If using walnuts or raisins, gently stir in now.
    7. Coat muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup about ¾ full with batter. Bake on middle rack of oven until muffin tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20–25 minutes.

Fruit Smoothies

(Adapted from Cooking Matters)

Ingredients 

Fruit Smoothies

Attribution: Fruit smoothies

  • 1 medium banana (Use any fresh or frozen fruit. Use fruits in season when you can.)
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • ½ cup 100% orange juice
  • 4 frozen strawberries

Preparation

  1. Peel banana. Place in blender.
    2. Add remaining ingredients to the blender. If using cinnamon, add now.
    3. Cover and blend until smooth.

World Hand Hygiene Day is May 5

Natasha Wright, RN, MSN
DHEC HAI Nurse Consultant

While there won’t be a cake with several tiers, beautiful gowns or champagne toasts, hand hygiene is definitely a subject worthy of its own day to “celebrate.”

In the pursuit of preventing all healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) urge all health care facilities and organizations to join us in highlighting the single most important practice supported by evidence in helping eliminate cross-contamination and reduce HAIs—proper and thorough hand hygiene2.

Up to 70 percent of HAIs that occur yearly could be prevented if health care workers follow recommended protocols, which include proper hand washing3. Even with all of the evidence of its effectiveness and emphasis placed on the importance of hand cleanliness, a 2010 study that examined research on global practices found that only roughly 40 percent of health care workers comply with recommended hand washing guidelines3.

A Few (Not-So-Fun) Facts:

  1. Studies show that some health care providers practice hand hygiene less than half of the times they should. Health care providers might need to clean their hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift, depending on the number of patients and intensity of care. Know what it could take to keep your patients safe1.
  2. On any given day, about 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection. Many germs that cause these infections are spread from patient to patient on the hands of health care providers1.
  3. There are three areas most often missed by health care providers when using alcohol-based hand sanitizer: thumbs, fingertips and between fingers1.
  4. A few barriers to completely following recommended guidelines are3:
  • Inconvenient placement of sinks and/or hand sanitizer dispensers, or empty soap or sanitizer dispensers;
  • Health care workers concerned about drying out their skin;
  • Overlooking hand cleanliness due to the workload of a health care worker and/or a chaotic environment;
  • The belief that wearing gloves when providing care is sufficient in preventing the spread of germs.

Hand Sanitizer or Soap and Water1?

  1. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the preferred method for cleaning your hands when they are not visibly dirty because it:
  • Is more effective at killing potentially deadly germs on hands than soap;
  • Requires less time;
  • Is more accessible than hand washing sinks;
  • Reduces bacterial counts on hands;
  • Improves skin condition with less irritation and dryness than soap and water.
  1. Use soap and water when hands are visibly soiled and/or when working with a patient or an environment in which you may come into contact with contaminants.
  2. Although the amount of time for proper hand washing with soap and water varies from 15 seconds to 30 seconds (depending on the study), hands should be vigorously scrubbed for a minimum of 15 seconds.
  3. Remember “My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene”4:
  • Before touching a patient;
  • Before clean/aseptic procedures;
  • After body fluid exposure/risk;
  • After touching a patient;
  • After touching a patient’s surroundings.

Still Room for Improvement

In a world where health care is continuously changing, one thing has remained constant—routine and thorough hand washing is essential for preventing the spread of germs (including the increasing threat of those resistant to antibiotics) and the development of HAIs in patients. While the health care field is far from the days when gloves were barely worn and hand hygiene was an afterthought, we are not at 100 percent compliance in our facilities. Whether it is through the use of the traditional soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, proper handwashing must continue to be highlighted and emphasized by all champions of infection prevention because it is one practice that will remain constant for years to come.

Useful Resources for World Hand Hygiene Day

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Clean Hands Count Campaign

cdc.gov/handhygiene/index.html

World Health Organization (WHO) Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Campaign

Theme for 2017–Fight antibiotic resistance – it’s in your hands

who.int/gpsc/5may/en/

 References:

  1. CDC. (2016). Show Me the Science. cdc.gov/handhygiene/science/index.html
  2. Infection Control Today. (2017). infectioncontroltoday.com/topics/hand-hygiene.aspx
  3. Saint, S. (2016). Hand washing stops infections, so why do health care workers skip it? theconversation.com/hand-washing-stops-infections-so-why-do-health-care-workers-skip-it-58763
  4. WHO. (2017). My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene. who.int/gpsc/5may/background/5moments/en/

Pledge to keep your body, heart and brain healthy

DHEC is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina Chapter, The American Heart Association and Eat Smart Move More South Carolina to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and brain health.

Protect your body, heart and brain

DHEC and its partners will collaborate on a campaign that encourages people to Take Brain Health to Heart. A key element of the effort is a pledge — which can be found at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealthpledge — that encourages residents to keep their body, heart and brain healthy.

The campaign is designed to educate and mobilize South Carolinians to protect their brain health by being more active, eating better and taking other steps. Research has shown that smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes may contribute to cognitive decline. It has also found that unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and brain injury may affect the health of the brain.

Message key for S.C.’s aging population

This is an important message in South Carolina, whose population is getting older. While Alzheimer’s and dementia are not a normal part of aging, getting older is the greatest risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, 84,000 people over the age of 65 are reported to be living with Alzheimer’s disease in South Carolina.  By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 120,000, according to the SC Alzheimer’s disease registry report. South Carolina has one of the fastest-aging adult populations in the country, ranking in the top 10. That population is expected to increase to 1.1 million by 2029, resulting in one in five South Carolinians being over age 65.

South Carolina is one of seven states to receive funding to reduce stigma, promote early diagnosis and address risk reduction factors associated with cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The effort is funded by a collaborative that includes the Alzheimer’s Association, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Take the pledge

Over the next few months, DHEC, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Heart Association and Eat Smart Move More will jointly focus on messaging regarding heart and brain health and cognitive decline.

The campaign will feature a centralized DHEC Brain Health webpage. Each partner organization will have a link to the page, which will include health education materials, social media messages and a call to action in the form of a pledge about healthy lifestyle changes. People who visit the page and take the pledge will be entered into a monthly drawing for a Fitbit, beginning this month and ending June 30. Please visit the webpage at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealth and take the pledge.

Get regular oral exams for early detection of oral cancer

By Adrianna Bradley

DHEC urges you to proactively fight oral cancer by getting regular screenings.

It’s estimated that over 900 people in South Carolina will be diagnosed with oral cancers and cancers of the throat, tonsils and back of the tongue in 2017 alone and 180 will die from oral cancers.  These cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women. They are about equally common in blacks and in whites.

“Regular visits to your dentist or physician is the best method to help detect oral cancer in its early stages,” said Dr. Ray Lala, director of DHEC’s Division of Oral Health. “Oral cancer is a highly preventable disease and very treatable if caught early.”

Oral cancer is most commonly diagnosed in people who are 50 or older, but HPV-related oral cancers are often detected in younger people.

Your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems. Don’t ignore any suspicious lumps or sores that last more than two weeks. If you discover something suspicious, make a dental or medical appointment for an examination. Early treatment is the key to recovery.

Here are some tips on how you can take an active role in preventing oral cancer:

  1. Brush and floss your teeth regularly. An unhealthy mouth reduces your immune system and obstructs your body’s ability to fight off bacteria.
  2. Ditch the tobacco. Whether you smoke it or chew it, your risks for cancer increases dramatically. Call the S.C. Tobacco Quitline today at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-900-784-8669). For services in Spanish, call 1-855- DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569).
  3. Limit your alcohol consumption. The risk of developing oral cancer increases with the amount and length of time alcohol products are used.
  4. Limit your sun exposure. Always use UV-A/B blocking sun protection on your lips when you are in the sun. Repeated exposure increases the risk of cancer on the lips.
  5. Exercise regularly. An active lifestyle can boost the immune system and help fight cancer.
  6. Choose cancer-fighting The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating lots of beans, berries, dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseed, garlic, grapes and tomatoes for their role in cancer prevention.
  7. See your dentist regularly. At least every six months, visit a dental hygienist and ask for an oral cancer screening to be done.
  8. Conduct self-examinations. Check the back and sides of your tongue. If you see or feel anything suspicious like lumps, bumps or tender areas, make an appointment to visit your dentist or doctor.

Visit the DHEC website for more information about oral cancer.

It’s Air Quality Awareness Week. Be Air Aware.

This is Air Quality Awareness Week, a great time to learn how air quality affects your health. Topics for this week, which runs May 1-5, include:

  • wildfires
  • asthma and air quality
  • air quality trends
  • air quality around the world
  • citizen science

Wildfires

Wildfires cause major air quality issues as they emit harmful gases and particles.  Wildfire smoke can travel thousands of miles. The South Atlantic region, including the Carolinas, experiences the most wildfires, about three times the national average. South Carolina Forestry Commission firefighters respond to about 3,000 wildfires annually. In October 2016, a series of wildfires began in the Southern Appalachians, and continued into early December.

To protect your health during a wildfire stay indoors with windows closed, put air conditioners on “recirculate” mode, and pay attention to air quality reports via local media.

Did you know? Controlled fires, managed by skilled professionals, can greatly reduce the chance of a damaging wildfire.   

Asthma and Air Quality

Asthma is a long-term condition affecting the lungs/respiratory system and making it difficult to breathe. In 2013, 400,000 South Carolinians — including 100,000 children — suffered from asthma. Air pollutants, such as particulate matter and ozone, can exacerbate asthma symptoms.  Visit DHEC’s ozone forecast page or sign up to receive air quality alerts from Enviroflash.

Check out DHEC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking tool to find more information on how asthma and air quality affect South Carolinians. The EPA also has information available on Asthma and Outdoor Air Pollution.

Air Quality Trends

Historically, as sources of air pollution have increased — coal burning, factories, automobiles, power plants — air quality has declined. However, in the United States, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s, air quality has improved while the GDP, population, vehicle miles traveled and energy usage has increased. How is this possible? The Clean Air Act. Learn more about air quality trends across the US in this interactive trend report on Our Nation’s Air.

 Air Quality Around the World

 While air quality in the US has improved since the passage of the Clean Air Act, many cities and areas across the globe continue to struggle with air quality problems. Issues include wind-blown smoke and dust, vehicle emissions and industrial pollution. See the presentation Air Quality Around the World for examples of global air quality challenges and some novel strategies for addressing air pollution.

 Citizen Science 

 Citizen science refers to research collaborations between professional scientists and citizen volunteers.  Citizen science projects can engage citizens in data collection and analysis in their communities. EPA’s “Village Green” project, for example, uses wind- and solar-powered park benches to collect minute-to-minute air measurements for ozone, particle pollution and weather conditions.

Lichens and mosses can be an indicator of air quality health. US federal agencies have been monitoring lichen health on federal lands since the early 2000s, and recently more citizens have been becoming involved in monitoring efforts. Programs like Michigan Tech’s “Mobile Environmental Citizen Science” and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “Citizen Science Central,” also show how citizen science can contribute.

Make checking the ozone forecast part of your data collection, and feel free to download and use our desktop Air Quality Forecast signs.