Karen Owoc Named in Regional Journalism Award

SanFranciscoPeninsulaPressClub_500The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club held its 37th Annual Professional Journalism Awards Competition on May 31 and presented 192 awards of excellence in eight divisions and 41 categories. Judges included media professionals from Press Clubs of Cleveland, Florida, Houston, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orange County, and San Diego.

Karen Owoc and her colleagues, Kevin Wing, Keith Sanders, Darryl Compton and Patty Zubov, were recognized for their contributions to “Off Camera” which received First Place in the Public Relations/Newsletter category. “Off Camera” is a monthly publication of the Northern California Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (host of the Emmy® Awards) and features media profiles, broadcast news, events, technology, and Karen Owoc’s monthly health column, The Health Reporter.

They are joined by other award recipients, such as KQED 9, KCBS Radio,  the Daily News Group, and San Francisco Business Times. http://sfppc.blogspot.com/2014/05/37th-annual-greater-bay-area-journalism.html

The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club is a professional journalism organization that serves the Greater Bay Area in various news and public relations media.

 

♥ Daily Dose | Eat Your Way to a Trimmer Waist

Beer Belly_istock_000015992739xsmall_A large waistline (abdominal obesity or “having an apple shape”) puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes — all of which can affect your longevity. Belly fat is also one of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome. See Daily Dose | Why Metabolic Syndrome Matters.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Katcher, H.I. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2008; vol 87: pp 79-90), found that a calorie-controlled diet* rich in whole grains decreased extra fat from the waistlines of obese subjects with metabolic syndrome compared to dieters who ate refined-grain foods.

*Daily energy needs minus 500 calories per day were calculated to produce a calorie deficit needed to achieve weight loss.  

The Whole-Grain Diet

A grain product is whole grain if a “whole grain” is listed as the first ingredient on the food label. By following the whole-grain eating plan, participants lost more abdominal fat than another group that ate the same diet, but ate refined grains instead.

To replicate the study, eat the following daily for 12 weeks (the participants lost 12-14 pounds):   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Golf and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Did You Know…

golf-course-landscape_PDGolf courses are the fifth most common place for people to suffer from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCA is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops functioning. According to the American Heart Association, a golfer is one of over 380,000 people in the United States each year to suffer from out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest… and less than seven percent survive. The other four most common places for SCA are airports, shopping malls, stadiums, and jails.

How to Be Prepared

The worst case scenario is having a cardiac event on a distant hole. On your next golf outing, it’s a good idea to do the following when you schedule your tee-off time:   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Why Metabolic Syndrome Matters

Metabolic syndrome, also known as syndrome X or obesity syndrome, is the name of a group of risk factors that increases your risk for:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD) also known as atherosclerotic heart disease – Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque (a waxy substance) builds up inside your coronary arteries and hardens and narrows your arteries. The narrowing reduces blood flow to your heart muscle and can result in chest pain, a heart attack, heart damage, or even death.
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes

Linked to Overweight, Obesity and Inactivity

Fat Man_istock_000012609799xsmall_800x450Your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes increases with each of the following metabolic risk factors. You have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of these measurements.   Continue reading

Get Heart Smart

February is Heart Awareness Month

February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month — an annual reminder to raise your awareness about heart disease and how you can prevent it.

Here at The Health Reporter, you can find a variety of posts related to cardiac health that can help you and that you can share with people important to you.

It’s easy! To find heart-related articles and videos, go to Categories (left column of this blog page) then scroll down to “Heart Health | Cardiac Rehab” and click on it. You’ll be able you to share any post via email, Facebook or other favorite social media sites.

Do Not Give Up

Quotes_Do Not Give Up

“Do not give up. The beginning is always the hardest.” For more inspiration, follow me on Pinterest at: http://www.pinterest.com/karenowoc/quotes-that-move-me/

♥ Daily Dose | Why You Need a Strong Core

If you were to ask how you could quickly reverse the aging process, I would advise you to develop your “core”. Your core spans muscles, bones, and joints in your abdomen, back, buttocks, sides, and hips/pelvis. Weak, tight or unbalanced core muscles can affect your ability to move, function independently and enjoy physical activities.

The major core muscles to strengthen are your:

  1. Abdominals – Stabilize your core, twist your trunk, and allow you to bend forward at the waist and to each side.
  2. Back - Stabilize your core and allow you to straighten up, bend backward, forward, and to each side.
  3. Hip Adductors - Pull your thigh towards the midline of your body.
  4. Hip Flexors – Stabilize/rotate your pelvis, stabilize your body when you stand, and allow you to bend at the waist and hike up each leg.
  5. Gluteals or “glutes” - Extend/rotate your hip, rotate/abduct your thigh. (Abductors push your thigh away from the midline of your body.)

Why You Need a Strong, Stable Core:

  • Heart Running on TreadmillMakes it possible to stand upright and move on two feet which enhances your balance and stability.
  • Is essential to sit and move (e.g., walk, jump, dance, and run).
  • Helps prevent falls.
  • Distributes the stresses of weight bearing which protects your back and reduces back pain.
  • Improves athletic performance. (Powerful, rapid muscle contractions start from the center of your body out.)
  • Improves posture.
  • Enhances arm and leg function which helps build powerful arms and legs.   Continue reading

Fit Find | Low-Carb Pasta Substitute

If you’re a cardiac patient, dieter or diabetic on a low-carb eating plan and you CRAVE pasta, House Foods® Tofu Shirataki is a tasty (and gluten-free) alternative you can get excited about. It has a unique texture, but it’s still very ‘noodle-like’ and satisfying to the pasta-deprived palate.

Tofu shiratakiShirataki noodles are Japanese slippery glass noodles made with konnyaku (a member of the Japanese yam family). “Tofu Shirataki” is made by blending tofu and the flour of konnyaku to soften the texture and make it more appealing to traditional pasta fanatics.

So if you’ve missed eating noodles, you can eat them now – guilt free. I have to agree with the products’ marketers on this one in that Tofu Shirataki is a “pasta lover’s dream”. It has little flavor on its own which makes it a versatile element in any dish. They’re packed in water and there are four different shapes to choose from: fettuccine, elbow, angel hair, and spaghetti. (I prefer their larger, flat fettuccine shape over the spaghetti.)

Tofu shirataki has the following nutrients per 4-oz. serving:   Continue reading

Fit Find | Monte Bene® Pasta Sauces

Monte Bene Pasta Sauce_05500b5f49817700b4cf933bb1ece114One of the problems with using a prepared spaghetti sauce is that they contain added sugar and are high in sodium. Here’s a Fit Find you can use on anything that needs sauce, such as your favorite pasta, fish, or chicken.

The Monte Bene® Farm Fresh Tomato Basil, Garlic Marinara, and Spicy Marinara Pasta Sauces are delicious as well as truly “all natural” — just tomatoes, Italian San Marzano tomatoes, fresh onions (not dehydrated), extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and garlic, and seasonings.

Each sauce contains just 240 mg sodium per 1/2 cup serving, less than 1 g sugar, and 40 calories. Other commercial sauces can contain up to three times the sodium and up to 10 times the sugar.

Monte Bene® sauces are also reasonably priced ($4.99 per 24-oz jar at Whole Foods). To find out more: http://www.montebene.com. Click here for more Fit Finds.

♥ Daily Dose | Stevia and Sugar Substitutes

Question: What’s your take on Stevia as a sugar substitute? I use a flavored coffee creamer (French vanilla or Irish cream) in my coffee and would like to add some kind of sweetener. From John S., San Ramon, CA

Answer: First, the flavored coffee creamers are already sweetened.  The primary ingredients of commercial creamers are oil, sugar and artificial flavor/color. See my post on Creaming Up Your Coffee for healthier alternatives.

SteviaSecond, almost all of my patients with type 2 diabetes are hooked on calorie-free sugar substitutes, struggling with their weight and have cardiovascular disease. Coincidence? Maybe not. Studies on artificial sweeteners show these compounds contribute to weight gain, sugar cravings and obesity. Also, compared to people who avoid diet or regular soft drinks, diet soda drinkers also appear to have elevated risks for:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease 
  • Metabolic syndrome (the name of a cluster of risk factors that occur together and increase your risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes)

But It’s “Natural”…

Stevia leaf

For centuries, stevia was used medicinally as a cardiac stimulant.

Stevia is a plant native to South America, also known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf, and is processed to produce a calorie-free sugar substitute. Because it’s derived from a plant, food companies market stevia as a “natural” sweetener to appeal to dieters, diabetics and health-conscious individuals who presume it must be healthier and safer than those originating in a lab. But unless you are eating stevia in its whole-leaf or crude form (which is NOT FDA-approved due to possible health effects), it isn’t all that “natural”.   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Arterial BlockageWhen you walk or climb stairs, do you have… cramping, pain, aching, or tiredness in the muscles of your calves, thighs, buttocks, or hips? If so, you could have peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a narrowing of arteries (blockages) in your pelvis and legs.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Cold legs or feet
  • Sores on lower extremities that won’t heal
  • Toenail color change

When PAD worsens, it’s typical to develop ‘exertional leg pain’, known as claudication. It occurs when you’re exerting yourself and feels like a muscle cramp. These symptoms usually go away after resting, but return when you walk again.

Do NOT try to “walk off the pain” or “tough it out”. Your limbs need to reoxygenate. Claudication does NOT go away if you continue to walk — it is only relieved by rest. 

The pain is no different from ischemia (lack of oxygen) of your heart in that the delivery of oxygen does not meet the metabolic oxygen demand of working muscles. What makes it worse when you’re walking is your blood has to move ‘upstream’ through narrowed arteries in your lower extremities to get back to your heart for more oxygen.   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Best Fiber Fix for Cardiacs and Diabetics

For good health, aim for getting in 40 gm of fiber every day — but all fibers are not alike. If you’re a diabetic, cardiac patient or at risk for heart disease, it’s a good idea to know the difference.

Dietary fibers are found naturally in plants. They’re the parts that don’t break down in your stomach and pass through your system pretty much intact. Fiber is separated into two main types: soluble and insoluble. They’re both important, but they have different properties (how they react with water) and have a different effect on your body.

NOTE: Since some fibers absorb water, be sure to drink more fluids as you increase your fiber intake.

Oatmeal

Oat fiber helps lower bad cholesterol and control blood sugar.

Soluble Fiber

  • Dissolves in water and forms a viscous gel in the intestines which slows down digestion.
  • Helps lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol.*
  • Slows the emptying of food through the G.I. (gastrointestinal) tract, so it helps control blood sugar and diabetes.
  • Makes you feel full longer which helps control body weight.
  • May reduce blood pressure and inflammation.

*LDL cholesterol is needed to produce hormones and provide structure to cell membranes, but because excesses can accumulate in the blood vessels and promote atherosclerosis, it’s been branded as the “bad” cholesterol.  

Did You Know…

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge“. It soaks up cholesterol-laden bile salts in your intestine and eliminates them with other waste. To produce more bile acids (compounds needed to transport and absorb fat and fat-soluble vitamins), your liver must use the LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. That means there’s less to collect and harden on the walls of your arteries!   Continue reading

Fit Find | Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour

Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/FlourHere’s a nutty alternative to using white or wheat flour… almond meal/flour. It’s lower in carbohydrates and high in fiber which makes it better for diabetics (won’t spike your blood sugar).

Almonds contain nut phytonutrients and are a good source of fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E. Nut phytonutrients (plant nutrients) have been shown to help fight free-radical damage,  prevent inflammation, and lower blood cholesterol. That is, nuts can reduce your risk of death from major chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. See ♥ Daily Dose | What’s Your Nut I.Q.?

Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour is nothing more than super finely ground whole, blanched sweet almonds. That’s it…. no other additives! But besides being super healthy, nuts are also calorie dense, so almond flour is higher in calories than regular flours. If you want the benefits of the nuts with fewer calories, you can substitute a 1/3 of the flour in your favorite healthy muffin or cookie recipe with almond meal/flour.

Compare the nutritional information from a 1/4 cup serving of these different flours:   Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | What Makes a Good Breakfast?

Empty gas tank_PDAre you running on an empty tank? People who start their day without an a.m. meal often feel depleted, overeat later in the day, and make some not-so-smart decisions as they go along. Eating a good breakfast sets the stage for making healthy choices that will power up your body as well as your brain.

Why Eat Breakfast?

As you sleep, your body works hard to digest last night’s dinner. By the time you wake up, your body and brain demand fuel.

Three Breakfast Components

Morning menus are filled with options — from breakfast wraps to smoothies in every color — and need not be complicated. Breakfast can be simple, quick and satisfying. Be sure it includes a heart-healthy mix of whole grains, protein, and healthy fat to satisfy you as well as sustain you.   Continue reading

Mended Hearts® – Guest Speaking Dates

Mended Hearts logoMended Hearts, Inc. is a national non-profit cardiac support group that is dedicated to inspiring hope, offering encouragement, and improving the quality of life for heart patients, their families and caregivers. The organization was started by Dr. Dwight E. Harken, a heart surgeon, with three of his open heart surgery patients in January 1951.

Over 60 years later, there are 300 Mended Hearts chapters in the U.S. and Canada where heart patients meet monthly for ongoing social, emotional and practical support. They are partners with over 460 hospitals and rehabilitation clinics. Mended Hearts offers services to heart patients through visiting programs, support group meetings and educational forums.

A few months ago I had the honor of speaking to an engaging group of heart patients at their Oakland chapter (#188) that meets one Saturday a month at the Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California. I talked about the “Keys to Cardiac Health” and covered the top eight strategies to living a longer and stronger life.

Since then, I have been invited to speak at the following Mended Hearts chapter meetings. Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Clams: A Cardiac Superfood

Canned clamsDID YOU KNOW….  clams top the list as a source of vitamin B12? In fact, just one serving of clams (three ounces) has 14 times more vitamin B12 than a fortified breakfast cereal with 100% DV!

100% DV (Daily Value) of a nutrient is based on a 2,000-calorie diet and means a serving of the food contains 100% of your daily needs. This water-soluble vitamin plays a key role in cell metabolism, the formation of blood, and the normal functioning of your brain and nervous system. (See ♥ Daily Dose | Vit. B12 Deficiency)

Clams are also an excellent source of heme iron. Believe it or not, they’re right up there with beef liver. Heme iron is found in animal foods and derived from hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen). The body absorbs the most iron from heme sources of iron. Iron is essential due to its oxygen-carrying capacity.

An iron deficiency can impair muscle function, normal function of the nervous and immune systems, and can limit your work capacity during exercise. So, if you have a cardiac condition, it’s important to get enough iron each day. Patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) are prone to develop iron deficiency and iron supplementation improves functional status and quality of life.    Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | Vit. B12 Deficiency

VitaminsDid you ever think being deficient in one small vitamin could do so much damage? Unfortunately, B12 deficiency and borderline deficiency are relatively common — especially among older adults. Cardiac patients need to be especially aware.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin and plays a key role in cell metabolism, the formation of red blood cells, nerves, DNA, and the normal functioning of your brain and nervous system. A severe B12 deficiency can lead to:

  • Nerve damage
  • Memory loss
  • Incontinence
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Deep depression
  • Paranoia and delusions
  • Severe neurologic problems
  • Blood diseases

Who’s at Risk?    Continue reading

♥ Daily Dose | What’s Your Nut I.Q.?

Nuts_pbAccording to a large 30-year study, eating a handful of nuts every day could lower your risk of dying by 20 percent. Researchers report a decreased risk for most major causes of death like heart disease and cancer. Nuts are rich in healthful unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients*. Here’s how you can benefit and enjoy them.

  • Eat nuts seven or more times per week. Eating nuts just once a week lowered the risk of dying by 11 percent.
  • Eat one ounce of nuts per day — approximately 1/4 cup or one “handful”.
  • Beware of canned and packaged nuts (e.g., in Trail Mixes) that have been processed with oil and salt. It’s healthier to buy them raw and roast them at home without the additives.
  • Limit your intake of Brazil nuts to one per day or only occasionally due to their unusually high levels of selenium (an essential mineral). One Brazil nut contains 200 mcg of this mineral and the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 80-200 mcg.   Continue reading

Do This and You’ll Be Happier

Skiing_catching air_istock_000002966698xsmallWhen was the last time you were totally immersed in the moment and not worrying, reminiscing or planning what you’re going to do next?

Live in the moment. Don’t multitask. In today’s high tech world where you can follow multiple browser tabs at once while tweeting and listening to your favorite playlist, you’ve been trained to fragment your brain into various compartments, scatter your attention, and demand instant gratification. Multitasking has become a way of life, addiction and/or survival. But that practice can lead you down a road to unhappiness.

Pets are great teachers of living in the moment

Pets are great teachers of living in the moment

Be Engaged

Immerse yourself in an activity and you’ll find greater happiness. Studies report people are happiest when they’re so focused on an activity that virtually nothing else exists. That is, they aren’t interrupted by extraneous thoughts and hours pass like minutes.   Continue reading

How to Bounce Back from a Binge

Fat Man_istock_000012609799xsmall_800x450The holiday feasting is finally behind us. Since Thanksgiving seemed to roll right into Christmas this year, perhaps it was especially challenging for you to control your eating and manage your weight. If you consumed more calories than you expended, you may be starting the new year with a wider waistline and a guilty conscience. Well, don’t fret because here are 10 humane ways to get back on track.

1. DON’T beat yourself up for “being bad”. Avoid dwelling on having gone back for seconds (or thirds) and/or indulging in Aunt Clara’s irresistible tray of homemade cookies. Beating yourself up because you “went off your diet” will only bring on feelings of failure.

2. DON’T starve yourself or overly restrict your calories to “make up for being bad”.

3. DON’T vow to “go on a diet” and here’s why…   Continue reading

Tips to Buying and Wearing a Medical ID

Medical ID_BraceletinsertWhen shopping for medical identification jewelry or tags, consider the following features:

1. Appearance. You must like it enough to wear every day and all day. Medical IDs now come in stretchy silicone wristbands, stylish beaded bracelets, and tattoos, but keep it simple. If it looks too much like jewelry or an adornment, emergency responders may not recognize your tag as a medical ID.   Continue reading

Why Medical IDs Protect Heart Patients

emergency_SOURCEIf you’re suddenly unaware of your surroundings or unable to help yourself due to symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or disorientation from high or low blood glucose, a medical ID can tell your story when you can’t speak for yourself. The purpose of a medical ID is to alert paramedics, EMTs and medical professionals to your condition when they only have precious seconds to begin lifesaving care.

Wearing a medical ID 24/7 can save your life. When you have a potentially life-threatening health condition and/or have a cardiac device, emergency responders need to know for various reasons. Many cardiac patients also have other chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or dementia that can affect treatment.

Medical Condition(s) Alert

Consider wearing a medical ID if you have any of the following:

  • Chronic or history of coronary heart disease, including:
    • Angina
    • Arrhythmias
    • Heart transplant
    • Coronary artery bypass graft
    • Previous MI (myocardial infarction/heart attack)
    • Previous SCA (sudden cardiac arrest)
    • Stroke risk: hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation (A-fib), tobacco smoking, metabolic syndrome
  • Chronic disease, such as diabetes or dementia
  • Cardiovascular device, such as:
    • Coronary artery stent
    • Artificial heart valve
    • Pacemaker or ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator)
  • Food, drug or insect allergy that can cause an anaphylactic reaction
  • Sensitivity to medications
  • Rare blood type

Implanted Medical Device Alert

Alert emergency personnel to metal implants

Certain metals used in implantable devices, such as a stent, artificial valve, pacemaker, and ICD, may be “ferromagnetic” which means they are attracted to magnets. This may mean you cannot have an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) if you are injured. MRIs are becoming more widely used as a diagnostic tool since they use large magnets and radio-frequency waves (not radiation) to produce pictures of your body’s internal structures.   Continue reading

Try Something New for 30 Days

30 Day Challenge by Matt Cutts30-Day Challenge

Is there something you’ve always meant to do, wanted to do, but just … haven’t? Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google, suggests: Try it for 30 days. This short, lighthearted talk offers a neat way to think about setting and achieving goals.

To get inspired, click on the image above to watch Matt Cutts on TED Talks. “The next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not, so why not think about something you have always wanted to try and give it a shot for the next 30 days?”

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Try something new that’ll benefit your health and heart.

Quick Quinoa with Wasabi Arugula and Shrimp

Quick QuinoaNeed some healthy fast food? Here’s a high-protein, high fiber dish that you can enjoy as a side, salad or to-go lunch. Why quinoa? It’s protein dense, rich in B vitamins and omega-3 fats which means it’s not only healthy for your heart, but nourishing for your bones and skin. It’s also gluten-free if you’re sensitive to wheat. The frozen red quinoa and brown rice combo is already cooked which makes preparing this power salad simple and quick!   Continue reading

Test Finds 3X More Breast Tumors & Why It’s Not Available to You

Working with a team of physicists, Dr. Deborah Rhodes developed a new nuclear medicine technique for tumor detection called MBI (Molecular Breast Imaging). It’s three times as effective as traditional mammograms for women with dense breast tissue and uses a third the compression force.

mammogram vs mbi3The life-saving implications are stunning. So why haven’t we heard of it? Rhodes shares the story behind the tool’s creation, and the web of politics and economics that keep it from mainstream use.

Watch Dr. Rhodes’ compelling TED Conference talk on evox Television.

evox_logo

Look at What Can Be

Quote_Every day is a new beginning

“Every day is a new beginning, so treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been and look at what can be.” For more inspiration, follow me on Pinterest at: http://www.pinterest.com/karenowoc/quotes-that-move-me/

Healthy Veins for a Healthy Heart

Nearly sixty percent of men suffer from varicose veins, so it’s not just a problem for women. These ballooned veins develop a gnarled bluish/brown appearance, but they’re not just a cosmetic concern.

Varicose veins afflict young men as well as grandmas

Varicose veins afflict young men as well as grandmas

These weak bulging vessels can rupture and bleed as well as cause swelling and throbbing which can cut into your daily activities.

To avoid varicose veins, exercise. It’ll keep your vessels strong which will promote healthy venous return and cardiac output. Poor cardiac output results in an inadequate delivery of oxygen to your muscles and vital organs.

Be sure your exercise routine involves working out the often neglected, but very important, calf muscles. Gravity causes blood to pool in your legs which expands the vein walls. Sitting or standing for long periods exaggerates this problem and over time, the veins don’t return to their taut condition.

When your calf muscles contract, they actually act as a ‘pump’ and are essential for maintaining blood flow from your legs back up to your heart. Keep the blood vessels in your lower extremities in optimal condition with the following six exercises:   Continue reading

Believe In Yourself

 

Quote_A bird sitting on a tree“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because the trust is not on the branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself!” For more inspiration, visit http://pinterest.com/karenowoc.

Why I’m Now a Statistic… Protect Yourself Against Skin Cancer

Two weeks ago I had a biopsy and yesterday I found out I have cancer. Not pre-cancer… the real deal. Basal cell carcinoma. I’ve learned it’s one of the most common types of skin cancer, but knowing that I now join 2.2 million other Americans diagnosed each year doesn’t make my diagnosis any less daunting or serious.

I’m still dazed in disbelief. It’s not because I’m not a likely candidate. I admit it, I am. I grew up in the sun. As an active athletic kid, staying indoors was not an option. I can still hear my mom’s repeated warnings at the sight of my golden tan or raging sunburn, “You better stay out of the sun. You’ll get freckles. Worse yet, you’ll get skin cancer.” Well, once again, Mom was right.

As a youngster and young adult in my 20′s, I spent my summers on the tennis courts, by the pool, or on a boat or bike. Winters didn’t keep me from being a UV target either. I lived on the mountain and skied competitively, so in reality, I clocked in thousands of hours under the sun on the glorious slopes of Lake Tahoe.

What actually shocks me about the cancer diagnosis is the benign nature of the tumor. I’ve read the rules for skin cancer and examined the well publicized graphic photos, but my lesion doesn’t resemble any of the textbook examples. There is NO discoloration. It’s not brown, black or red. In fact, my doctor described it as “translucent”.

It’s one of those things I noticed while putting on my makeup some time ago. I casually thought about getting this small ‘bump’ removed someday, but considered such action as purely cosmetic and neither a big deal or urgent. However, during a routine head-to-toe skin cancer exam, my dermatologist regarded the bump as suspicious.    Continue reading

The Health Reporter Now on Evōx Television Network

Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, can now be seen on the Evōx Television Network. Karen’s article and appearance on the Jen and Barb Mom Life Show discussing “How Active Do Your Kids Need to Be?” can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/1cS0T5C

Evōx is a new kind of television — the next evolution in entertainment – that puts caring about the planet and the people at the center of what they do. They are an online entertainment television network and a conscious marketplace with original television programming on health, wellness, global and social issues, food, wine, travel, community projects, and conscious consumerism. Evōx Television inspires positive changes in the way people live and work.

Gluten-Free for Getting Fit

291961-New_certified_gluten_free_label_has_stringent_audit_and_review_processMore and more gluten-free products are taking up valuable real estate on grocery and health food store shelves. This is great news for people who suffer from celiac disease and cannot eat foods that contain gluten. But many people who do not have the disease perceive a gluten-free diet as healthier and for that reason, gluten-free diets have become a growing lifestyle trend.

Why Go Gluten Free

This diet excludes all foods that contain gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, malts, and triticale. The G-free up side is that this diet is essential for people with celiac disease or a gluten allergy or sensitivity. By eliminating gluten from the diet, many popular processed snack foods, cookies and cakes that are high in calories and void of nutrients are off limits. Note that opting to drop junk food from your diet alone can make your feel better, but it’s not necessarily because you’ve eliminated gluten.   Continue reading

Fit TV | Skin Nutrition (Part 2: Minerals & Fats)

VIDEO: Healthy skin needs essential minerals and fats to do its job and to look its best. Find out which ones you need and where to get them.  Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, provides an overview of the key minerals and essential fatty acids necessary for healthy, youthful and radiant skin. Producer/Editor: Karen Owoc. Director of Photography: Michael DavichTheHealthReporter.tv

Bullet Point Media, LLC

Tailgating 101: How to Party and Picnic Safely

Summer is synonymous with baseball, tailgate parties and picnics but that means careful attention to menu planning and coordination. Since you’re without a refrigerator and running water, keeping your food safe all day requires safe food handling practices.

What to Pack

  • Picnic_iStock_000016712596XSmallLots of clean utensils for preparing and serving safely cooked food.
  • Insulated coolers to keep food protected and cold.
  • A food thermometer to be sure meat and poultry are cooked at high enough temperatures to destroy harmful bacteria and foods are reheated to safe-to-eat temperatures.
  • An appliance thermometer for coolers.
  • Clean, wet, disposable cloths and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.
  • Water for cleaning.   Continue reading

Frankenfood: Eating GMO Foods

GMO greenhouseGMO stands for genetically modified organisms which are specifically, genetically modified (GM) or ‘biotech’ crops, used to produce genetically modified foods. These GM plants are created in a laboratory by altering their genetic material (DNA). Scientists can introduce various modifications into the genes of crops, dairy products and animals.

So why and how do GMOs get into your food? Are they safe to eat? Here are some tips to avoid them if you choose to keep them off your plate.

How Crops Are Modified

Genetic modification (GM) is usually accomplished by adding one or more genes to a plant’s genome using genetic engineering techniques. GMO foods are generated using various methods to transfer foreign cells into animals and plants, such as: 1) Gene guns (particle guns) which inject cells with genetic information or 2) Bacterial carriers (a benign bacterial or viral infection).

Why Foods or Food Crops are Genetically Modified

Foods are modified to:   Continue reading

Fit TV | Skin Nutrition (Part 1: Vitamins)


VIDEO: The skin needs essential vitamins to function and look its best.
Discover which ones you need and where to get them. Karen Owoc, The
Health Reporter, provides an overview of the foods to eat to get the key
vitamins necessary for healthy, youthful and radiant skin.  Producer/Editor: Karen Owoc. Director of Photography: Michael Davich. TheHealthReporter.tv

Bullet Point Media, LLC

Lifesaving Tips for Fashionable Flying

The chance of you being in an airline accident may be slim, but here are some things to consider before you board your next flight.

Get in Shape

This is not so much a question of looking good, but in an emergency evacuation, you will need considerable strength, agility and balance to save your life. Remember, if the cabin fills with smoke, you’ll need to be able to get down on the floor and crawl to get to an exit. This can be a problem if you’re not very flexible and can’t move quickly.

Pay Attention to How You Dress

Mother and child on airplaneWhat you (and your children) wear matters when flying. Keep a copy of these tips in your suitcase as a reminder when preparing for your next trip.

  • Don’t  wear synthetics, such as polyester, nylon, rayon or poly-cotton blends. Even though you may be far enough from the fire to avoid serious injury, the heat alone will melt your synthetic clothing and adhere to your bare skin. Melted fabric that sticks to flesh can result in a critical burn and infection. However, at the same distance away from the heat, a cotton jacket or pair of pants won’t begin to char or catch fire. The bottom line is, natural fibers are safer, plastic is dangerous.
  • Wear natural fibers, such as cotton, pure wool, silk, or leather. Cotton is flammable, but in a truly massive and intense fire, whether your clothes are flammable or not won’t matter much unfortunately. NOTE: Some cotton shirts are sewn with poly/cotton thread (an ignition source), so you are still vulnerable.   Continue reading

Building for America’s Bravest

Support Our TroopsBuilding for America’s Bravest is a program to construct Smart Homes for our most catastrophically injured service members returning home. Each specially-designed home uses “adaptive technology” to help our most severely injured heroes live more self-sufficient, comfortable and dignified lives.

But for every home that’s built, another three veterans are added to the waiting list. You can make a real difference in the lives of our brave service members who made extraordinary sacrifices in our place. Please help give them a home where they can enjoy a quality of life that would otherwise be impossible. See the Smart Home and meet some of America’s bravest here.

Fit TV | An Apple a Day…


VIDEO: Eating an apple a day is known to “keep the doctor away”, but eating one can have another interesting effect. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts this short-form segment of health and fitness news in The Health Reporter Minute.

Fit TV | Health and Nutrition Videos

Here’s a sampling of some of Karen’s ‘quick health bites’ on nutrition, health and exercise. Click here to check out the current videos from The Health Reporter Minute and The Men’s Health Minute library of topics. More coming soon!

Avocado-Mango Salsa

mangoMangos are in peak season, so find ways to include these refreshing tropical fruits in your daily eating plan. They’re filled with nutritious goodness, flavor, and antioxidants. Here’s why this colorful fruit makes the A-list of Fountain-of-Youth Foods. Pair it with avocados, an amazingly healthy superfood, that’s rich in fiber, healthy fats and phytonutrients and you’ll have a naturally creamy salsa for fresh fish, chicken or tortilla chips.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large ripe avocados, diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • Juice from 3/4 of a whole lime
  • 1-2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/16 of 1 jalapeño, diced (use more or less based on your desired level of heat)
  • 1 large ripe mango (not Manila), diced
  • 14 oz. Pineapple-Mango Salsa* (see below)

1. Mix the above ingredients in a medium bowl and serve.

*Pineapple-Mango Salsa (Tastes great on its own!)

  • 4 honey mangos (a.k.a. Manila or Ataulfo Mango), diced
  • 1/4 of 1 small fresh pineapple, diced
  • 1/16 of 1 jalapeño (to taste)
  • 1/4 c. red onions
  • 1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 of 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Juice from 1 lime

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: If you’re in a hurry, mix in your favorite guacamole (I like Whole Foods’ fresh guacamole) with the fresh mango, jalapeño and Pineapple-Mango Salsa.

Tips to Eat Less

VIDEO: New studies reveal that your eating habits can expand your waistline. Here are some tips to keep from shoveling down food too fast. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts this short-form segment of men’s health and fitness news in The Men’s Health Minute.

Fit Find | Collapsible Mini Square Colander

Berry colanderThis Collapsible Mini Colander is perfect for rinsing and draining berries, herbs, cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots. It has a removable snap-on base to catch drips when it’s on the counter or in the frig. When not in use, the colander collapses to 1/3 its original size for compact storage in a kitchen drawer or cabinet! Three-cup capacity. For more Fit Finds, click here.

Fit Find | Zojirushi Mr. Bento Stainless Lunch Jar

Mr. Bento Lunch Jar_ZojirushiThis stainless steel, vacuum-insulated lunch jar by Zojirushi allows you to pack a multi-course hot or cold lunch easily and securely. Comes with a zippered carry bag. For more Fit Finds, click here.

Fusilli with Rapini and Roasted Garlic

Rapini / Broccoli RabeWhat is rapini? Also known as broccoli rabe, rapini belongs to the cruciferous, or cabbage, vegetable family and is highly nutritious as well as delicious. It is a cousin to other ‘super-veggies’ that include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, arugula, kale, and mustard seeds and is a great source of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Being rich in disease-fighting phytochemicals, particularly sulforaphane, these healthy greens have potential anti-cancer properties.

‘Rapini’ is actually a culinary term for the edible leaves, stems, and shoots of cruciferous crops. So you can eat every bit of this plant! This vegetable has thick tender stems, flower buds, and mild peppery leaves. Rapini can have a bitter edge to it which gives it it’s characteristic flavor. The bitterness, however, may vary bunch to bunch and in season, but is toned down when cooked. A long-standing favorite in Italian cuisine, rapini pairs well with pasta and polenta.

Here’s a simple 5-ingredient recipe that makes an easy one-pot entrée or side dish:    Continue reading

A Quick Look into Gluten-Free, Paleo and Raw Food Diets

The Gluten-Free, Paleolithic (Paleo) and Raw Food diets have become trends, movements and lifestyles, but before you embark on any of them, here’s where they hit and where they miss.

Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten FreeThis diet excludes all foods that contain gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, malts, and triticale.

The G-Free Up Side: This diet is necessary for people with celiac disease or a gluten allergy or sensitivity. By eliminating gluten from the diet, many popular processed snack foods, cookies and cakes that are high in calories and void of nutrients are off limits.

The G-Free Down Side: Many gluten-free products are not fortified or    Continue reading

The Raw Truth About Vegetables


VIDEO: Research scientists have performed various studies on the valuable life-extending antioxidants in vegetables. These studies reveal whether it’s healthier to eat vegetables raw or cooked. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts this compact segment of health news in The Health Reporter Minute.

Fitting in Fitness

Stick to workout scheduleYou get busy and somehow exercise gets pushed down your ladder of priorities, or more often than not, it’s completely skipped over despite being scheduled on your calendar. Here’s how to stop the I’m-too-busy-to-exercise excuses and make working out a regular part of your daily routine.

Visualize

Visualize yourself exercising and how you want to look. In order to create a change, you have to see it. If you don’t see what you desire, you can’t get it. Create a video screen in your mind and keep “turning it on”.

Be Responsible

Victims give up all the benefits of being responsible. Realize that you are responsible for the choices you make. In this case, you either choose to exercise or not. By operating from this state of mind, you are accountable and take ownership of your actions. The benefits? Greater self-respect, time, and control of your life.

Put Exercise into Practice

Practice repetition and responsibility. Choose to exercise and establish a routine. Your brain has the ability to create new neural pathways. Therefore, you have the ability to do something different.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Don’t use the words “I need to” or “I should” exercise. Using these words means something is broken. Also, don’t tell yourself “I will try” to exercise. You either do or do not. There is no “try”. Tell yourself “I want to” or “I choose to” exercise.

Keep Your Word

“Something has come up” or “I’m too busy” are excuses for not following through on your commitment. Statements like “I have important things that need to get done” are justifications for not keeping your word. Give your word to your dreams and goals, then watch the effect.

The S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Way to Lose Weight

BathScaleIf your New Year resolution this year was to lose weight, how are you doing so far? How many times have you resolved to lose weight at the start of each new year and the result just didn’t turn out like you had hoped? The key to making this year’s fitness resolution a successful one is to establish objectives that are  S.M.A.R.T.E.R. than before. In other words, your goal is…

Specific and Sets a Simple Health Habit: Oftentimes, goals are too vague and/or too complicated a process. “I will lose weight” does not focus on precise details. And when the process to lose weight becomes too complex, such as “drinking a freshly made veggie protein shake three times a day” when you’re out in the field all day, then the likelihood that you’ll stick with your goal is pretty slim.

Measuring Belly FatMeasurable and Meaningful: First, losing weight should be YOUR desire and not that of someone else and your goal should have measurable objectives. Be sure you have concrete criteria for measuring your progress. Aim for quantifiable results. It’s easier to assess whether your objective has been met if you commit to a specific number.   Continue reading

How to Curb Emotional Eating

While food fuels your muscles, it also feeds your feelings. When eating is triggered by an emotion rather than physiological hunger, it’s known as ‘emotional eating’. It comes at a cost to your health and here are some of the causes, dangers and solutions.

pepperoni_pizza_wikim_pd_croppedEmotional hunger  Emotional eating is distinctly different from physical hunger. It strikes suddenly, whereas the rumblings of physiological hunger occur gradually. Emotional hunger is a psychological need to fill a void and generally involves a craving for a specific food, i.e., a ‘comfort food’. On the other hand, physiological hunger can be satisfied by any variety of foods and isn’t focused on one particular item.

Comfort Foods  Comfort foods are foods that you crave to obtain a good feeling when you’re in a negative mood, such as when you’re angry or depressed. But you may also reach for comfort foods to sustain good, positive emotions, such as when you’re happy, relieved or elated. Comfort foods become dangerous when they’re unhealthy choices. The most popular comfort foods for women are ice cream, chocolate and cookies, whereas men tend to gravitate towards pizza, steak, casserole, and chips.   Continue reading

Live Chat: Can Science Conquer the Flu?

Why hasn’t science developed a vaccine that protects you against all strains of influenza — for life? Science magazine is running a live chat on the flu today at 3:00 p.m. ET.  Click on this http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/12/live-chat-can-science-conquer-fl.html to discuss science and the flu with notable experts.