Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Health Care and Household Mold

Have you ever noticed a musty smell in your bathroom, closet, or other areas of the house, especially in areas near water? Mold: it's as old as the Earth and it's everywhere- inside homes and out.  And under the right set of conditions, it can actually start to grow inside your house, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

The NAHB reports that Mold is alive, but it is neither a plant nor an animal. Mold is a type of fungus. It is part of a group of living organisms that are very common and serve an important role in the environment. Penicillin, an antibiotic that has saved many lives, is a type of mold, as is yeast. However, mold can grow on bread and other types of food, making it unfit to eat. Mold can grow on the walls, floors and ceilings of your home as well as on your personal possessions. People often refer to some household molds as mildew, although the term also can apply to molds found outdoors.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis).
Allergic reactions to mold are common, according to the EPA. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is ongoing. This brochure provides a brief overview; it does not describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure. For more detailed information consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.

Mold spreads by creating reproductive cells called spores and sending them into the environment. Mold spores are too small to detect with the naked eye, according to the NAHB. They are everywhere around us and you cannot avoid being exposed to them. Mold spores travel in the air and attach to people's skin, clothing, shoes, shopping bags and belongings. Other ways spores can enter your home invisibly are:

--Through open doors and windows.
--Through your home's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
--On the fur of a pet.

Once spores enter, they can settle onto carpeting or other surfaces inside your home. You cannot keep spores out of your home, but regular home cleaning and maintenance often can prevent mold problems before they arise. More info can be found on the this subject on the NAHB site:

It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust, according to the EPA. The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don't fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back. Lots of detailed material can also be found on the EPA site:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. The CDC does have precise information about how often Stachybotrys chartarum is found in buildings and homes. While it is less common than other mold species, it is not rare. And what about toxic mold? The term "toxic mold" is not accurate. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. There is always a little mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces. There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven.

A common-sense approach should be used for any mold contamination existing inside buildings and homes, according to the CDC. The common health concerns from molds include hay fever-like allergic symptoms. Certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression may be at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment. For the most part, one should take routine measures to prevent mold growth in the home.  Much more info can be found on the CDC site:

Household mold is certainly unsightly and inconvenient. However, unless you have immune deficiencies or serious allergies to mold for your health, there is not really any imminent danger. If you have concerns, talk with your medical provider or family physician.

Until next time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Health Care and Immunizations for all Ages

Immunizations have been de riguer in the US for decades, and typically that process starts with infants, progresses incrementally during childhood, and then even adults are often required to have vaccinations. Getting a shot to prevent some horrific disease has been very controversial, but evidence abounds that the preventive nature of immunizing children and adults has proven to be extremely successful over time with little down side or side effects.

For example, one disease that until recently, has been largely under control. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Whooping cough — known medically as pertussis — is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, whooping cough may eventually turn more serious, particularly in infants. Whooping cough is most contagious before the coughing starts. The best way to prevent it is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP. The whooping cough booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both protect against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria.

However, according to Medscape Today, this week an advisory panel to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today took the last step toward making the tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine a shot for Americans of all ages. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 14 to 1 in favor of immunizing adults aged 65 years or older with Tdap on a routine basis. Before, the ACIP had recommended such shots for seniors only if they had close contact with an infant younger than 12 months of age and had not been vaccinated with Tdap before.

According to current ACIP guidelines, individuals aged 11 through 18 years should get a single booster dose of the vaccine after receiving Tdap or diphtheria, tetanus, and whole-cell pertussis (DTP) vaccine as part of their childhood vaccination series. In addition, the ACIP recommends a single dose for adults aged 19 through 64 years who have not gotten Tdap already. With today's vote by the ACIP, the recommendation for Tdap vaccination becomes universal. The ACIP reached its decision after considering the rebound that pertussis has made in the United States during the last 30 years. The number of reported cases peaked in 2010 at 27,550, with roughly 700 involving seniors, according to the CDC. However, the disease among seniors may be underdiagnosed, as the characteristic "whoop" is often absent in adults. More info about this issue can be found at this site:

In light of the recent increased incidence of pertussis in the United States, in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved recommendations for the use of the tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) for pregnant women. Furthermore, the committee updated Tdap recommendations for special situations during pregnancy and for persons in contact with infants. The revised guidelines, which are based on a review of data on Tdap safety, immunogenicity, and barriers to receipt of Tdap, are designed to facilitate the use of Tdap to reduce the burden of disease and risk of transmission to infants. There is no evidence of adverse fetal effects from the vaccination of pregnant women with an inactivated virus, bacterial vaccine, or toxoid, and these should be administered if indicated, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). More details can be found online about pre-natal immunizations at their site:

When children advance to middle school, Tdap is now a required vaccination. According to, for the 2012-2013 school year, and all future school years, all students entering, advancing or transferring into 7th grade will need proof of an adolescent whooping cough booster immunization (called “Tdap”) for school in the fall. Unless they have an exemption, all students going into 7th grade must have proof of having had the Tdap booster shot. This includes current students, new students and transfer students in both public and private schools. Many students have already received the vaccine and simply need to supply proof to the school, so check with your doctor or provider.

Unimmunized children are at risk for catching pertussis, getting really sick and missing weeks of school. Besides protecting your child, you can also beat the back-to-school rush by making an appointment for your incoming 7th grader to get a Tdap booster shot now. Keep documentation of your child’s Tdap booster shot in a safe place. Your child will need proof of immunization for school. Check with your school about how and when to submit the documentation. Testing for immunity to pertussis is not reliable and will not meet the new school requirement. According to state and national recommendations, the dose of Tdap required for the school law may be given at any time after the last tetanus shot. Much more details about this concern can be found here:

Immunizations are every bit as essential to the life of an 18- to 24-year-old, as they were back in the days of toddlerhood. Your college-aged child may not waltz out of the doctor's office with a balloon and a Sponge Bob Band-Aid, but she'll have vaccines that ward off such deadly diseases as cervical cancer and meningitis. And most of these are required by campus health services. If your child is college bound, her university is going to want to see a complete list of immunizations, dictated by state laws, which require basic immunizations against diptheria, for example, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella. And if your child is heading overseas for study abroad or gap year programs, community service, military duty or some backpacking and hosteling action, it's even more essential to schedule a visit with the doctor, according to "Vaccines for Grown-Up Kids" on Guide.

Tetanus and Whooping Cough: Tetanus or "lock jaw" is one of those old-fashioned diseases great-grandparents talk about. The violence of the muscle spams and horrifying progression of a disease that begins with a simple, infected scrape sounds like something out of a grim Grimm fairy tale. But tetanus is a global health problem that is nearly 100% preventable, thanks to a highly effective vaccine. Whooping Cough, or Pertussis is a severe coughing disease that is most severe in young children. In teenagers and young adults, the symptoms are often difficult to differentiate from other common respiratory illnesses, but can cause severe complications. In addition, teenagers and adults can serve as a source of infection in unprotected young children. The new combined Tetanus and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is now recommended for all adolescents age 11 to 12 with catch up till age 18 for those that have not received it yet. Once the teenager has received a Tdap vaccine they then only need a Tetanus booster every 10 years. Make sure your college-aged kid gets one.

Tdap is an immunization required by law for children and adolescents, and strongly suggested for adults of all ages. Do your best to keep your family safe from the diseases protected by this vaccination, and stay on track. Keep  your shot records in a safe, secure location with your important documents. The schools require proof, and you must provide it. Also, it's the law. The shots are not that expensive, but going without is very costly. Typically, the vaccinations are covered under your health insurance, but if you are not insured, there are plenty of local clinics who administer the immunization for little or no cost. Health care prevention of horrific diseases is your responsibility. Plus, it's the right thing to do to protect yourself and your family, not to mention the rest of society.

Until next time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Health Care and the 2012 Flu Season

The Flu is a nasty bug, and it can make you very sick. To some segments of the population, the influenza can be deadly. Every year there are people who succumb to this health care malady. However, for most individuals who are attacked by the flu, you only feel like you want to die. Survival is a given, but you tend to be "sicker than a dog" while you have it.

Children especially can get very sick with the flu. According to pediatrician Dr. Vincent Ianelli, a lot of people have been wondering what happened to flu season this year. Some have begun to question if we would even have a real flu season. While people have gotten used to early flu seasons, it is important to remember that flu sometimes doesn't peak until February and March, and can then continue until April or May.

So is this year's flu season just a little late? The current flu report from the CDC gives several indications that flu activity is increasing and "further increases in activity are expected in the coming weeks," including that:

• Right now, the first state with widespread flu activity - California.
• The national percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for flu has risen to above 10%.
• A second child has died from the flu already this year.

Fortunately, even as flu activity is about to rise, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine. See your pediatrician and get your kids protected for the rest of the flu season. flu symptoms can be severe and the flu is a bad virus. According to the CDC, the flu can 'cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.' In fact, 120 children died during the 2010-2011 flu season. Still, a lot of illnesses and symptoms get blamed on the flu, especially during the winter, that likely are caused by other viral illnesses or other conditions. If you consider that only 5 to 20 percent of people get the flu each year, and they typically get it just once, then every cough, cold, ache, pain, and fever, can't be caused by the flu. reports these typical Flu Symptoms:

Understanding what typical flu symptoms are in children can help you figure out if you or your child is sick with the flu. Flu symptoms usually include a sudden onset of:

--High fever, although not everyone with the flu has a fever
--Muscle aches and pains
--Weakness and tiredness
--Dry cough
--Sore throat
--Stuffy or runny nose
--Plus, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (least common flu symptoms)

Keep in mind that many other viral illness can cause cold or 'flu-like symptoms,' although flu symptoms are usually more intense than regular cold symptoms. However, sometimes the only way that you can tell the difference between a cold and the flu is by doing a flu test. This can be important because flu medicines, like Tamiflu, can help to decrease the severity of flu symptoms and help get better sooner. If you want more information, especially about flu and its impact on children, visit this website:

According to the CDC, most people who get the flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications. The flu also can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may have worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu. The list below includes the groups of people more likely to get flu-related complications if they get sick from influenza.

People at High Risk for Developing Flu-Related Complications:

• Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
• Adults 65 years of age and older
• Pregnant women
• Also, American Indians and Alaskan Natives seem to be at higher risk of flu complications.

People at high risk for catching the Flu are those who have medical conditions including:

• Asthma
• Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury].
• Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
• Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
• Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
• Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
• Kidney disorders
• Liver disorders
• Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
• Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
• People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
• People who are morbidly obese (Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 40 or greater).

Much more detailed information about the Flu can be found at this CDC site: . It would be good to spend time on this website to research any questions you have about the flu. There is plenty of detailed material about all aspects of influenza.

There are plenty of websites that talk about influenza, and even some about Bird Flu, Swine Flu, and other variations of this dreaded medical issue. However, here are simple things everyone can do to help prevent catching the flu can be summed up in these 10 easy steps:

1.) See your doctor and get a flu shot.
2.) Stay away from people who are sick with flu like symptoms or who have the flu.
3.) Stock up on TheraFlu from your pharmacy (
4.) Drink lots of water...lots of water....lots and lots of water during flu season.
5.) Wash your hands a lot--A LOT!
6.) If you are into Holistic Medicine, find a good book or website and study up on naturopathic home remedies, and be preventive.
7.) Bundle up when you go outside in cold weather, even if it's just for a few minutes.
8.) Stay warm.
9.) Use common sense during flu season and be careful when you are in crowds or around others.
10.) If you get the flu, stay home til you are better; and stay away from others. DON'T SPREAD YOUR GERMS! Then disinfect everything you've touched when you are well.
The flu can make you really sick. Be careful. See your doctor if you think you are coming down with the symptoms. Use common sense when it comes to taking care of your health. Other than being significantly disruptive to your health and your lifestyle, you can survive the flu.
Until next time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Health Care and Food Allergies 2012

Millions of Americans suffer from food allergies, and there are deaths every year associated with this life threatening health issue. Some food allergies are minimal, and some are critical. According to The Food Allergy Network, food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks a food protein. Ingestion of the offending food may trigger the sudden release of chemicals, including histamine, resulting in symptoms of an allergic reaction. The symptoms may be mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) or severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.). A food allergy can be potentially fatal. Scientists estimate that as many as 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies.

A skin prick test or a blood test (such as the Immulite or ImmunoCap test) for IgE antibodies is commonly used to begin to determine if an allergy exists. A skin prick test is usually less expensive and can be done in the doctor’s office. Positive skin prick tests or immunoassay test results will show that IgE is present in the body, but cannot alone predict that a reaction will occur if the patient were to eat a suspected allergy-causing food. The results of the tests are combined with other information, such as a history of symptoms and the result of a food challenge to determine whether a food allergy exists.

According to the Mayo Clinic, in some people, a food allergy can trigger a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This can cause life-threatening symptoms, including:

--Constriction and tightening of airways.
--A swollen throat or the sensation of a lump in your throat that makes it difficult to breathe.
--Shock, with a severe drop in blood pressure.
--Rapid pulse.
--Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness.
--Emergency treatment is critical for anaphylaxis. Untreated, anaphylaxis can cause a coma or death.

Exercise-induced food allergy:

Some people have an allergic reaction to a food triggered by exercise. Eating certain foods may cause you to feel itchy and lightheaded soon after you start exercising. In serious cases, an exercise-induced food allergy can cause reactions such as hives or anaphylaxis. Not eating for a couple of hours before exercising and avoiding certain foods may help prevent this problem.

Pollen-food allergy syndrome:

In many people who have hay fever, fresh fruits and vegetables and certain nuts and spices can trigger an allergic reaction that causes the mouth to tingle or itch. In some people, pollen-food allergy syndrome — sometimes called oral allergy syndrome — can cause swelling of the throat or even anaphylaxis. This is an example of cross-reactivity. Proteins in fruits and vegetables cause the reaction because they're similar to those allergy-causing proteins found in certain pollens. For example, if you're allergic to ragweed, you may also react to melons; if you're allergic to birch pollen, you may also react to apples. Cooking fruits and vegetables can help you avoid this reaction. Most cooked fruits and vegetables generally don't cause cross-reactive oral allergy symptoms

Strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food is the only way to avoid a reaction, according to the Food Allergy Network. Reading ingredient labels for all foods is the key to avoiding a reaction. If a product doesn’t have a label, individuals with a food allergy should not eat that food. If you have any doubt whether a food is safe, call the manufacturer for more information. There is no cure for food allergies. Studies are inconclusive about whether food allergies can be prevented. Epinephrine, also called adrenaline, is the medication of choice for controlling a severe reaction. It is available by prescription as a self-injectable device (EpiPen® or Twinject®). Much more info can be found on their site:
According to the NY Times, The only proven treatment for a food allergy is to avoid the food. Other treatments, including allergy shots and probiotics, have not been clearly proven to help with food allergies. If your child has a problem with cow’s milk formula, your health care provider may suggest trying a soy-based formula or something called an elemental formula, if available. If you suspect you or your child has a food allergy, consult an allergy specialist. If you have symptoms on only one area of the body (for example, a hive on the chin after eating the specific food), you may not need any treatment. The symptoms will likely go away in a brief time. Antihistamines may relieve the discomfort. Soothing skin creams may provide some relief.

Consult your doctor if you think you have had an allergic reaction to food, even if it is only a local reaction. Anyone diagnosed with a food allergy should carry (and know how to use) injectable epinephrine at all times. If you develop any type of serious or whole-body reaction (even hives) after eating the offending food, inject the epinephrine. Then go to the nearest hospital or emergency facility, preferably by ambulance. Seek immediate medical attention after injecting epinephrine for a food reaction.

Avoiding the offending foods may be easy if the food is uncommon or easily identified. However, you may need to severely restrict your diet, carefully read all package ingredients, and ask detailed questions when eating away from home. Symptoms usually begin immediately, within 2 hours after eating. Rarely, the symptoms may begin hours after eating the offending food. If you develop symptoms shortly after eating a specific food, you may have a food allergy.

Breastfeeding new borns and infants may help prevent allergies. Otherwise, there is no known way to prevent food allergies except to delay introducing allergy-causing foods to infants until their gastrointestinal tract has had a chance to mature. The timing for this varies from food to food and from baby to baby.
If your children suffer from food allergies, a good website for info can be found here: And according to this website,,  anyone who has signs or symptoms of a food allergy should see their healthcare provider. Between 20 and 30 percent of people report food allergy in themselves or their children. However, only 6 to 8 percent of children under the age of five and 3 to 4 percent of adults have a true food allergy. Laboratory testing and/or skin testing is often used to confirm the food allergy and determine if avoidance of a particular food is necessary. During a medical history, the healthcare provider will ask questions about the person's past allergic reactions:

•What symptoms of food allergy did you have?
•What particular food do you think provoked the reaction? Have you eaten this food before? Have you reacted before?
•How much of this food did you eat?
•What other foods did you eat at that time? Do you know all the ingredients of the food you ate? Include all foods: appetizer, main dish, sauces, dressings, breads, beverages, and side dishes.
•How was the food prepared? As an example, could the food have been fried in oil used to prepare other foods?
•Were any of following eaten: peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, wheat, or soy?
•How much time passed between eating the food and the first symptoms?
•Did you exercise or exert yourself after eating?
•Did you take any medications, herbs, vitamins, non-prescription medications, or drink any alcohol before or after eating?
•How was the reaction treated? Did it resolve without treatment or did you take any medications? How long were the medications continued and were there any later symptoms?

Depending upon the answers to these questions and the physical examination, the healthcare provider may decide to order laboratory testing. In other cases, the provider will refer the person to a specialist (allergist or gastroenterologist) for further evaluation.

Food allergies should not be taken lightly, especially in children. One wrong bite could send you or your child to the emergency room. Be careful about ingesting items that cause physical symptoms that could lead to severe reactions or death. Make sure you educate yourself about the limits to your diet, and other food options that serve as viable substitutes when preparing meals or eating out. Always talk with the restaurant manager if you have an issue with severe food allergies. They typically are used to dealing with food allergies and will go out of their way in most cases to avoid a situation that could be potentially life threatening. For all medical or health related questions about food allergies, visit your primary care physician, or allergy specialist.

Until next time.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Health Care and Breakfast

You've probably heard most of your life about the importance of eating a good breakfast. Most nutrition experts say that it's the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast gets your morning started on the right track. It helps you keep your energy up and make healthier eating choices throughout the day, according to

There’s some physiology to it; eating breakfast prevents you from bottoming out and getting too hungry. And, psychologically, you know you started the day off right. When eating breakfast becomes part of your regimen, you start having ownership of it, become more consistent, and feel that you’re making a change for the better. Nutritionally, when you have breakfast, there’s more of a guarantee that you’re getting the nutrients you need every day.

According to I Village Health, here are 15 reasons to have a good breakfast:

1.) Lose Weight: It sounds counterintuitive, but people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who don’t. Many breakfast abstainers get so hungry by midmorning that they grab high-calorie quick fixes rather than the lower-calorie whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk or whole-wheat toast, fruit and yogurt that they might have eaten for breakfast, explains the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Another bonus: Whole-grain eaters have lower body weights and smaller waist measurements.

2.) Have More Energy: When you wake up, your fuel tank is empty and your blood sugar is at its lowest for the day. You need breakfast to get your engine going -- it raises your blood sugar and ramps up your metabolism to energize your body. A carb-protein combo such as a bowl of oatmeal made with milk or a slice of whole-grain toast with cheese can give you longer-lasting energy and help keep hunger at bay during the morning hours.

3.) Get the Nutrients You Need: The nutrients that we don’t get enough of -- vitamin D, calcium, potassium and dietary fiber -- are abundant in traditional breakfast foods. Instead of popping a multivitamin and calling it a morning, mix and match breakfast foods that deliver all four nutrients. Whip up a smoothie with low-fat milk (vitamin D and calcium) plus banana and berries (potassium and fiber). Or go for half a cantaloupe (potassium) topped with yogurt (vitamin D in some brands, and calcium) and fiber-rich breakfast cereal.

4.) Wake Up Your Brain: To perform at your best, you need to nourish your body from top to bottom, including your brain, with a nutritious breakfast. It’s easier to concentrate and complete tasks at work and home when you’ve eaten a balanced morning meal rather than relying on coffee alone for brainpower.

5.) Satisfy Your Hunger: What you eat in the morning can influence how hungry you feel throughout the day. A combo of lean protein and fat can keep you satisfied until midday or later. Try a couple of eggs or a carton of yogurt, along with whole-wheat toast, a whole-grain English muffin or other whole grains rich in fiber. Peanut butter on your toast or sliced almonds on your cereal also may boost satiety. Experiment to find the food combinations that work best for you.

6.) Steady Your Blood Sugar:  For lasting energy, it’s best to keep your blood sugar at an even keel. Cut back on juices, sweetened drinks and sugary breakfast foods that are absorbed quickly and give your blood sugar a quick jolt up and down rather than a steady climb. A drop in blood sugar can leave you feeling tired. New research shows that eating whole grains at breakfast may even help keep your blood sugar steady through lunch and into the afternoon.

7.) Meet Your Fruit and Veggie Quota: Health officials recommend eating at least 4.5 cups of fruits and veggies daily to help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer and possibly obesity. Aim for a cup at breakfast -- fruit, tomato slices and veggies in your omelet all count toward your daily total.

8.) Ward Off Disease: Antioxidants found in produce (especially blueberries and raspberries) are part of a food insurance policy that helps protect the cells in your body from damage. Bump up the antioxidant value of your breakfast even higher by topping your oatmeal with cinnamon, sprinkling walnuts in your bowl of cold cereal or stirring a bit of cocoa powder into your coffee.

9.) Make MyPlate Your Plate: The government’s new MyPlate symbol represents the ideal ratio of food groups, with 50 percent vegetables and fruits and 25 percent each protein and grain. To recreate it at home, pair a cup or so of fresh or frozen fruit with a slice or two of whole-grain toast and a hard-boiled egg, a slice of reduced fat cheese or a dollop of peanut butter. Add a serving of low-fat milk or yogurt to round out your meal.

10.) Trim Calories:  Instead of reducing calories by eliminating breakfast, eat about 350 to 400 calories, and always include nutrient-dense, low-calorie, filling foods such as fruit, cereal with fat-free milk or low-fat yogurt. Not hungry for breakfast? Take a look at the size of your dinner. An overly big dinner can kill your morning appetite and add too many calories.

11.) Protect Your Heart: Studies show that people who eat breakfast generally consume less cholesterol and fat and more fiber, and this improves their heart health. Of course, if your idea of breakfast includes bacon, butter and more than an egg a day, you’re not doing your heart any favors. You can trim the fat and cholesterol from your morning omelet by using just egg whites, extra whites mixed with one whole egg or an egg substitute.

12.) Cancel Out Cancer: To reduce your risk of cancer, health organizations like the American Cancer Society recommend eating more vegetables and fruits, swapping out processed grains and sugars for whole versions and limiting processed meats. Turns out that breakfast is the perfect meal to follow those guidelines. Think grapefruit or melon chunks, veggies in your omelet, whole-grain cereal and bread and lean bacon on special occasions.

13.)  Strengthen Your Immunity: Do your immune system a favor and sit down to a bowl of breakfast fruit salad with mango, papaya, pineapple and a squeeze of lime for a generous dose of vitamins A and C. Vitamin A promotes infection-fighting white blood cells and helps the skin and mucous membranes block invading bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C works hard to prevent damage to cells from free radicals. It is also needed to make collagen, a protein that helps heal skin wounds.

14.) Build Strong Bones and Muscles: The dynamic duo of calcium and vitamin D ensures that bones get what they need to stay strong, so be sure to include the most convenient source -- a cup of cow’s milk or fortified soy, almond or rice milk. Cow’s milk also is a good source of protein, the nutrient that helps you retain muscle. Compare the protein content of nondairy milks and choose those with higher amounts. Some brands have very little protein.

15.) Improve Digestion:  To help keep your gut healthy, include some probiotics and prebiotics in your morning meal. The probiotic bacteria found in certain yogurt varieties are bred for their beneficial functions -- some crowd out “bad” bacteria in your intestines, and others help regulate your digestive system. Inulin, a carbohydrate added to certain yogurts and other foods, contains prebiotics that help nourish “good” bacteria so that it can flourish.

If you consider that when you wake up in the morning, for the majority of individuals, your body and brain have been without food for around 10 - 12 hours. For children it may be longer. According to, your body is similar to a car in the fact that it needs fuel to run, and like a car, the better you look after your body, the longer and better it will run. Bodies must be fueled several times each day so that they function efficiently and carry out daily tasks as best you can. In the morning, after many hours without food, it is essential to refuel in order to provide the necessary nutrients and energy to get you through the first part of the day.

If you deprive your body of food in the morning you may find that you feel tired, dizzy and irritable and that your concentration is poor. It may take you longer to carry out tasks or you just might not feel up to anything mentally strenuous let alone physical. You will probably find yourself snapping at people unintentionally, especially if under stress and you will no doubt soon start to feel pangs of hunger as the morning wears on. It is also possible that you may become so hungry that you grab twice as many unhealthy snacks to eat before lunch.

According to the Mayo Clinic, breakfast gives you a chance to start each day with a healthy and nutritious meal. It also lays the foundation for lifelong health benefits. Breakfast is especially important for children and adolescents. According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to:

--Meet daily nutrient requirements.
--Concentrate better.
--Have better problem-solving skills.
--Have better hand-eye coordination.
--Be more alert.
--Be more creative.
--Miss fewer days of school.
--Be more physically active.

If you skip breakfast because you're short on time each morning, plan ahead. Much more info can be found at this site:  Also, here are some tips to fit in breakfast on a tight schedule:

--The night before, figure out what you'll eat. Then set out dry ingredients and any bowls, blenders or pans so they're ready for use.
--Make breakfast the night before, then just heat as necessary in the morning.
--Pack a to-go breakfast the night before.

Whatever your situation, whether you are working full time, you are a student, you are a stay at home parent or work out of your home, or you are retired, always take time to grab a healthy snack for breakfast. If you have the time, treat yourself to a really good meal first thing in the morning. Be careful not to overeat, but enjoy good food to start your day out right. If all you have time for is a "grab-n-go" type of item, then eat something healthy. Take time to treat your body and your mind right before you tackle the challenges of each new day.
Until next time.