Saturday, January 31, 2015

Is Chewing Gum Healthy?

Chewing gum has some definite benefits, particularly for those with chronic conditions who have salvia issues. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. ... Chewing sugarless gum has been shown to increase the flow of saliva, thereby reducing plaque acid, strengthening the teeth and reducing tooth decay. Another benefit is that it acts as a tooth whitener.

Chewing gum 30 minutes after a meal has been found to help relieve heartburn and even protect against damage caused by GERD. Other benefits include: improves memory (teachers have students take tests while chewing gum); reduces symptoms of stress ;and weight management. However, like anything done to excess, over doing gum chewing can lead to headaches, trigger TMJ, or damage dental work.

Not all gums are equal, and the ADA recommends sugar free. That noted, some people are allergic to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharine, which in high doses, can cause metabolic damage.

There is now a gum made with xylitol that not only acts as an antimicrobial to stop bacteria growth but also satisfies sugar cravings. You can purchase gums made 100% from xylitol at health food stores. Note that Xylitol is toxic to dogs, even a small amount can cause liver failure so be sure to keep gum away from your pet.

While chewing gum is not a replacement for brushing and flossing, it can be a very helpful adjunct to good dental health

The ADA has given their “seal of approval” to the following:
• Dentyne Ice Sugarless Gum
• Ice Breakers Ice Cubes
• Stride Sugarless Gum
• Trident Sugarfree Gum
• Wrigley’s Extra Sugarfree Gum
• Wrigley’s Orbit for Kids Sugarfree Gum

• Wrigley’s Orbit Sugarfree Gum

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Take a Zen Break

As we edge out of January and into February, the cold of Vermont seems to creep into one’s bones and it’s hard to remember the warm summer sun. This is the perfect time for a Zen Break-a calming pause that helps to restore balance.

 My favorite activity at this time of year is lying on the couch or bed and soaking in the mid day sun as it streams through the windows. My cat will often join me in this practice, so I figure it’s a very Zen thing since cats are the ultimate Zen masters- they spend the majority of their day in silent contemplation.

Before I go further, it’s worth taking a detour to talk about Jon Stewart’s- “The Daily Show”-“your moment of Zen.”  He uses this to reflect on an aspect of today’s news in the same way one would contemplate Zen koans.  If you aren’t familiar with koans, these can be a puzzling short story or statement that transcends normal thought patterns. “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” is an example of a Zen koan.

In case you’re wondering, Zen is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhist, which emphasizes the value of meditation and intuition.

Below are a variety of  “breaks” or “moments of Zen” to try out.

Zen Moments:  I particularly like doing Tone Matrix  and there are some good links in 10 Instant Moments of Zen 

• The Importance of Finding Your Zen Moment: This is written by a lawyer who advocates: Taking a walk and let your mind wander; Affirm the things in your life you are thankful for. Forgive yourself. Become a tea drinker. Keep a journal. 

• The Science of Breath: Provides the  research on various types of breathing exercises, most of which are designed to reduce stress.

• From past Take a Breaks

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterestfor lots of Take a Break ideas. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cut to the Chase: How to Avoid Pharmacy Errors

Since we are more likely to remember three things versus the popular “top ten,”  this coming year you’ll be seeing a lot more “cut to the chase” posts where we focus on three things versus a laundry list of items. Let me know if you think this is easier.

Recently a friend’s parent ended up receiving the wrong dosage of a medicine, which resulted in very serious health consequences. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this in people with various types of chronic conditions. With many pharmacists working long hours, and the aging of the baby boomers,  it’s not surprising that more than 100,000 Americans die each year of adverse drug reactions. Scary but true-at least one study found that one in every eight prescriptions filled had a mistake.

What to do:
1. Discuss the medication being prescribed with your provider in detail before you get the prescription filled. Know the generic and label name; why you’re taking it; dosage; side effects; when and how to take it; whether it replaces other drugs you may be taking or if there could be interactions with meds or supplements (vitamins count) your on. Write this information down and compare it to what’s on the bottle/box when you receive the prescription.

2. Use one pharmacy. Many people with chronic conditions have multiple doctors. It is not uncommon for a specialist to write a prescription that could create problems when taken with another medication. Because a primary pharmacy will keep track of your prescribing history, they are more likely to pick up on conflicting medications, as well as note when there has been a significant change in dosage. Sometimes the change in dosage is a clerical error.

3. Examine your Prescription Before Using and Call/talk to the the pharmacist when:
-       • The information on the prescription bottle does not match information provided by your medical provider
-       • A refilled prescription doesn’t look like what you’ve been taking and/or the label contains a different name, direction or dosage.

-       • A liquid prescription doesn’t come with a dropper or measuring device and/or you are unsure how to use it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Take a Break: Create Steampunk Anything/Top Hat/Mask

I’ve always loved the various gears and clocks etc. that mesh together to make incredible art, jewelry, furniture, costumes and even film. I’m a fan of “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Hugo,” and read “The Golden Compass” in close to one sitting. Until recently, I hadn’t realized this all came under the title of “Steampunk.” So my “Fun a Day”  has been exploring the world of Steampunk and trying various aspects of it.

If you aren’t familiar with the term “steampunk,” think Jules Verne meets Mad Max in the Victorian age. Originally, the term was used to refer to a genre of fiction – a sub-genre of science fiction actually, where steam power and springy gadgets were tossed into Victorian-era or Westernized Wild-West type settings.   The term doesn’t just apply to fiction writing anymore, and now refers to a wildly popular artistic movement.  Though there are hundreds of interpretations of the movement..... Beyond the Gears: the Steampunk Movement 

As I mentioned in last week’s Fun A Day post, I’m doing something daily around Steampunk art, which is the aspect that interests me the most. At the moment that’s taking the shape of a Mardi Gras costume. So far I’ve made a purple top hat and a mask. The latter came about as an accident.

I created a stencil of Steampunk images, and happened to be looking at masks made from lace. Realizing that the stencil I made had a lot of the qualities of lace, I turned it into a mask. You can google “free steampunk stencils” and come out with a variety that you can then print and cut out. I happen to love to cut paper, so this is perfect for me.

For the Steampunk Top Hat, I made it after watching several on-line videos. I found the on-line duct tape one very helpful. That said, you can make the hat out of any type of material-cardboard, heavy paper , duct tape, old yoga mat, felt etc. The basic directions are as follows:

• Start out with a 25 inch by 8 inch piece of material. I used duct tape, but use what you have on hand.
• Measure your head and mark that length on your material. Truth be told I just folded it around my head and taped it. Depending on the material you use, you can glue the sides together or use tape. Make sure the finished product is cylindrical. 
• Using another sheet of your preferred material measuring 15 inch by 15 inch, start in the middle and make a circle the size of your cylinder. This will be the top of the hat.
• From the edge of this circle, measure two inches out all the way around for the brim.
• If using duct tape, there’s no problem with cutting through the brim to cut out the top of the hat. However, if you are using other material, use an exacto knife to cut both pieces out.
• If you use duct tape, follow the instructions in the above video to assemble. If you are using other fabric, glue or sew together.

As far decorations for my top hat, I’m still working on it but I’ve cut out a lot of gears, clocks etc. and have a variety of Mardi gras beads and ribbon. Am looking for some feathers at the moment.

 Check out this Epoff site for links and Pinterest boards on Steampunk. 

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of Take a Break ideas.