If you’ve ever found yourself wandering down the aisles of your local grocery store staring pensively at the rows upon rows of vitamins, natural remedies and supplements, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to determine if any of these products can safely support your health and wellness goals. To wrap up this month’s focus on nutrition, we’d like to introduce you to a database you may not know much about which can help you tackle those tough questions. Here are some ways the Natural Medicines database can help you out, and why you should add it to your arsenal of reliable health resources.
Diabetes is a disease that affects millions of Americans. Whether you or someone you know suffers from diabetes in some capacity, our Health Sciences Library can provide you with access to top-notch resources to help you get educated about the disease and learn how to manage it. We’ll get you started with a few of our favorite places to start looking for patient information.
Notable Consumer Health Resources
MedlinePlus is a resource produced by the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library. You can rest assured that the information found within the site is reliable, up-to-date, and free. Each health topic typically includes a landing page which acts as a portal to more in-depth information. The diabetes page contains links to videos and tutorials, as well as patient handouts in multiple languages, among other quality resources. Perhaps most useful of all is that all information is presented in easy-to-understand language, so you don’t need to be an MD to make sense of the facts.
Center for Disease Control
The CDC houses information on a number of health topics. This month features a great page on managing diabetes, including tips for preventing complications and getting into healthy habits. The main diabetes page can direct you to a bevy of other useful resources, too.
Healthfinder.gov is another safe government resource for health information. It is simple to navigate – use the Health Topics A – Z to search for the condition you are interested in.
Need any additional guidance or in-depth help? Our staff are happy to point you in the right direction. Stop by the library anytime between 8am and 5pm Monday – Friday to talk with one of us. While we’re certainly no substitute for the medical advice of your doctor, we’re experts at finding reliable health information that can help you as you both work together to make responsible decisions for your health.
MedlinePlus: It’s like you have a medical professional right in your computer
Did you know you can access up to date, authoritative information on nearly 1,000 health topics in easy to read (i.e., non-medical jargon) language for FREE? The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine have a terrific resource called MedlinePlus geared toward the general public, and not health professionals.
Health topics in MedlinePlus are available in many different languages, from Japanese to Samoan, even Swahili and Polish. Topics are categorized by body location/system, disorders and conditions, diagnosis and therapy, demographic groups, and health and wellness. You can also find information on drugs and supplements, and watch videos and tutorials.
Although the content in MedlinePlus is not meant for health professionals, the information found here can be very useful for physicians and nurses. Materials in MedlinePlus are typically written at a 5th to 8th grade reading level, making them perfect for use as patient handouts. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, about 36% of adults in the U.S. have limited health literacy, or the ability to understand basic health information needed to make health decisions. In fact only 12% of the U.S. population is proficient in health literacy.
The next time you need basic information about your heartburn, are curious as to whether you’re getting enough calcium, or want to learn more about a family member’s recent Celiac Disease diagnosis, check out MedlinePlus.
And remember, if you need any help locating good, reliable health information online, stop by the health sciences library and speak to a librarian.
September is National Cholesterol Education Month! Here are some things we learned courtesy of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs. There are two kinds: high-density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol). Having too much of the “bad” in your blood is bad for you; excess cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries and form blockages. Due to this, too much cholesterol in the blood is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
What role does screening play?
High cholesterol doesn’t exactly have any symptoms, so many people do not know their cholesterol is too high. It’s good to have your doctor do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that if you’re an adult aged 20 years or older that you should look into checking your cholesterol every 5 years. Depending on some other factors, you may need to do this check more often.
How can you prevent or treat high cholesterol?
Here are some lifestyle changes to consider!
- Eating a healthy diet – avoid saturated fats and trans fats, as they are known to raise cholesterol levels. Some other fats, like polyunsaturated fats, can conversely lower the level of cholesterol in your blood. Eating more fiber is also useful!
- Exercising regularly – Physical activity is also good for lowering cholesterol. 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week is recommended for adults by the Surgeon General.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – Your cholesterol levels may raise and be much higher if you’re overweight or obese. It follows that losing some of that weight can help lower that cholesterol.
- Not smoking – Quit as soon as possible if you do!
For more information, visit the CDC website to find more resources like useful links and additional reading. You might also find some helpful related information on heart disease in our Consumer Health LibGuide on our library website!