Turkey… with a side of memory loss?

If older relatives at holiday gatherings show early signs of dementia, new research shows the importance of steering them to testing

Thanksgiving memoryAs you gather for Thanksgiving and winter holidays, you might notice that Grandma, Aunt Betty or Uncle Sal seems to struggle more with memory, or thinking, than she or he did last year.

Rather than chalk it up to normal aging, new U-M research suggests you might want to gently suggest they get it checked out by their doctor.

In fact, as many as half of seniors who have these symptoms have never had it checked out fully, new research finds. Dr. Vikas Kotagal, a U-M neurologist who led the new study, says families should encourage seniors with even early signs of memory loss to talk to their doctor.

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Sweet potatoes versus yams: Clearing up the confusion

Just in time for Thanksgiving dinner

yams blog

Sweet potatoes, rich in beta-carotene, are a healthy addition to your Thanksgiving feast.

Sweet potatoes versus yams. If you find yourself confused about the difference between the two, you’re not alone. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture requires root vegetables labeled as “yams” to also be referred to as “sweet potatoes,” which only adds to the confusion.

The root vegetables found in most grocery stores with a smooth, tan skin and an interior orange flesh are sweet potatoes. If you happen upon a tuber with a rougher, dark brown skin and white flesh, you’ve likely come across a yam. Sweet potatoes can be found in almost any produce section while true yams are most often sold at international grocery stores.

Whichever you choose, yams and sweet potatoes are good additions to your Thanksgiving meal.  When prepared with skin on, both contain significant amounts of potassium and fiber — two nutrients that contribute to a heart-healthy diet. So, which should you include in your Thanksgiving spread? Continue reading

Making spirits bright

Holiday gift donations for kids at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital

Gifts on display at Mott Toy Store

We rely on donations to make the Mott Toy Store a success each year for families of hospitalized children.

Every year, we are awestruck by the generosity of organizations, families and individuals who want to help the kids at Mott during the holiday season. It’s a beautiful reminder of the kindness of the human spirit.

Your donations help us bring cheer to our Little Victors year round, but this time of year, in particular, they help us make our annual “Mott Toy Shop” possible. Many of the parents of our Little Victors are reluctant to leave their child’s bedside for five minutes, let alone enough time to brave crowded stores for holiday shopping. And all too many are also feeling the weight of financial challenges. The Mott Toy Shop helps these parents still give their child a holiday experience even while spending their holiday in the hospital.

If you’re interested in making a holiday donation to Mott, here are some things you should know:  Continue reading

5 reasons we shouldn’t joke about kids with food allergies

5 reasons not to joke about food allergiesManaging food allergy in schools remains a challenge. There is little evidence to guide school officials in managing and balancing both the needs of the 8% of children with food allergy, as well as the children without food allergy. Recent data from the March 2014 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health demonstrated that there is no clear parental consensus on how to manage such issues. Striking a balance that allows all parties to feel their needs are validated is a tremendously difficult task, but mutually acceptable solutions are accomplishable.

In this light, recent comments made by elected a Clawson, Michigan school board member at their November Board of Education Meeting are disheartening and inappropriate. The board member suggested that students with food allergies “should be shot” as a means of accommodating their health concerns. Obviously, she was joking, but the comments were insensitive. Food allergy is not a laughing matter, and these children should not serve as a target of derision. Here are a few reasons why food allergies must be taken seriously within the education community.

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GERD and the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, it can be difficult to follow a healthy diet and maintain a regular exercise routine. For some individuals, with the holidays come painful symptoms of heartburn and discomfort after indulging in all those delicious meals. Because of this, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) has designated the week of Thanksgiving as gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) Awareness Week. Holiday_Heartburn_blog_words

What is GERD?

GERD is a chronic, often treatable disease, with symptoms of heartburn and regurgitation of acid. Other symptoms may include dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), chest pain, chronic cough, chronic hoarseness, dental problems, and/or experiencing a bitter taste in the mouth. Patients with GERD may respond well to medications like Nexium and Prilosec that reduce the production of acid in the stomach. Diet and lifestyle modifications are also effective in managing GERD. Continue reading

Thanksgiving: an ideal time to talk about family health history

family health historyThe U.S. Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving Day as National Family Health History Day since 2004. Over the holiday or at other times when families gather, the Surgeon General encourages Americans to talk about, and to write down, the health problems that seem to run in their family.

Family members share genes, environment, lifestyles and behaviors that can determine shared risk for diseases such as various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity. That’s why family gatherings like Thanksgiving are the perfect time to collect your family health history, record it for the future, and encourage family members to share it with their health care providers. These easy steps can help you understand the risk for various diseases and encourage early detection and prevention. Continue reading