Focus on Healthy Vision

The irony of staring into a computer screen to write a blog post about healthy vision is not lost on me, but here we are. Even if you don’t spend the majority of your day stuck behind a monitor, it’s important to take good care of your peepers. Most vision problems are preventable and can be avoided by following a few healthy suggestions. Here are just a few simple tips for taking an active role in the health of your eyes.

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What’s the deal with dietary supplements?

Who remembers those commercials for Flintstones brand chewable multivitamins from back in the day? As a kid, I was happy to take one a day because, let’s face it, they tasted like candy. Now that I’m an adult, it’s definitely a little harder to feel like I should be taking a daily vitamin or other dietary supplement. There are so many bottles sitting on the shelf at the grocery store and so many labels; it can be overwhelming when you’ve just come to pick up some eggs. Understanding a bit more about these supplements and how they work can go a long way towards helping you determine whether or not they should be a part of your life.  As National Nutrition Month comes to an end, we’re providing you with an overview of dietary supplements to help you decide whether you need to boost your nutrition this spring.

What exactly is a dietary supplement?

Dietary supplements can contain one or more dietary ingredients like vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other substances. They usually come in pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid form, but can also come as powders and bars, too. They’re meant to supplement (not replace) the nutrition you get from your daily diet.

Do I even need to take a dietary supplement?

It depends. Your nutritional needs should technically be met as long as you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet full of a variety of foods. The foods we eat are full of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and other substances that are good for your health, but sometimes you might not be getting enough of a particular nutrient. This can be due to lots of reasons even outside of what you eat. For instance, if you’re getting insufficient exposure to sunlight, you might not be getting enough vitamin D; this is where a dietary supplement could be helpful.

What should I take then?

Before you pull every bottle from the shelf, it’s a very good idea to talk to your doctor first to determine what supplement may be right for you, or if you even need one. It can be dangerous to exceed the level of nutrients you can safely intake. Your doctor can tell you just how much of a particular supplement will be beneficial to your health. If you’re already taking one, make sure your doctor is aware – some supplements may not play nicely with prescription medication.

How much of a recommended supplement should I take?

The manufacturers label will suggest a serving size as it relates to the potency of the supplement ingredients, but this can get a little confusing depending on what your doctor has recommended for you. You don’t want to take more (or less) than what you need. Read the labels as carefully as you can, and follow up with your doctor to make sure you’ve picked up the right thing. You can also ask your local pharmacist for help with interpreting supplement labels.

Where can I find more information about the types of supplements that are available?

A good place to start is MedlinePlus. Powered by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), MedlinePlus presents information in an easy to read format and provides you with lots of links to other safe places to look for health-related information. The NIH also has a number of helpful Vitamin and Mineral Fact Sheets that can provide you with scientifically-based overviews about the many vitamins and minerals that are out there.

Resources

https://medlineplus.gov/dietarysupplements.html

https://www.nutrition.gov/dietary-supplements/questions-to-ask-before-taking-vitamins-and-mineral-supplements

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/DietarySupplements-HealthProfessional/

 

Discover More About Your Family Health History with these Genetics Resources

Knowing our family health history is often the key to our own personal health. Many chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, are often inherited. But we can also inherit genes from our family that can increase our chances of developing certain serious diseases such as cancer. Understanding genetics can be confusing for anyone. Luckily there are many resources available to help you make sense of this important topic.

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Habits for Healthier Sleep

Raise your hand if you’re tired right now. OK, now raise your hand if you’ve been tired at least a few afternoons this week. Unfortunately, I bet every single one of you lovely readers raised your hand for at least one of those – according to the CDC, one third of Americans are chronically sleep deprived, regularly clocking in at fewer than 7 hours a night. The number of people who experience occasional and/or recurrent sleep deprivation is even higher – studies show that nearly everyone experiences occasional sleep deprivation. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation can lead to a slew of problems: from reduced concentration, lowered immunity, irritability, and low productivity in the short term to the increased risk of heart disease, anxiety, depression, chronic inflammation, dementia, and much more over the long term.

Luckily, there are some easy ways to help you sleep more and sleep better! Next week is Sleep Awareness Week, so we want to encourage you to try these tips next week to see how you feel! If you find yourself more rested, you can work them into your regular routine.

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Get Moving! Best Exercises for Heart Health (That Aren’t Running)

We all know that in order to develop strong muscles in our body, we need to exercise. But did you ever consider that your heart is also a muscle? Arguably the most important muscle in your body, the heart also needs to be worked out to stay in tip top shape and keep ticking. If the thought of lacing up and heading out the door for a heart-thumping run gives you panic attacks, no need to stress. Running isn’t for everyone, and there are lots of ways to make your heart strong that don’t involve running—although, that’s also a pretty great way to strengthen your ticker, too!

hearthealth

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Health Benefits of Art and Creativity

It’s no accident that our Health Sciences library is brimming with artwork created students, faculty, and staff at the UCF College of Medicine. Creating and viewing art is not only fun and fulfilling, it also has amazing health benefits: from improved focus and concentration to reduced stress and anxiety. So whether you paint, draw, write, sing, dance, play an instrument, create pottery, color-by-numbers, or even just enjoy strolling around in a museum, you’re potentially having a big impact on your overall health and well-being.

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Heart Healthy Tips for Dining Out

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means plenty of people are going to be heading out to their favorite eateries for a meal. It’s a good excuse to order something indulgent and extravagant, but can you order good food from the menu that is also good for your heart? The answer is yes! There are plenty of ways to make heart-healthy menu choices no matter what type of restaurant you end up at. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

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Tech Talk Thursday: Love your heart – Wearable technology for heart monitoring

It’s time to have a real heart to heart about health…specifically cardiovascular health. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and February is a great time to start some serious conversation about that since it’s National Heart Month. Today, we’d like to center the discussion around some of the technology that’s out there to help combat that statistic.

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Resource Roundup for Thyroid Awareness Month

Although January is quickly coming to a close, we want to highlight the fact that this is Thyroid Awareness Month. According to the American Thyroid Association, about 20 million Americans have some type of thyroid disease and over 12% of people in the US will develop some kind of thyroid condition in their life. Having an undiagnosed thyroid condition can also put you at risk for other issues, including osteoporosis, infertility, and even cardiovascular disease. There are some excellent resources available to read up on thyroid health, so you can have an informed conversation with your healthcare provider about whether you need to be concerned about thyroid issues. Read on to learn more.

The paisley ribbon signifies thyroid awareness.

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