For 63 years, American kids have been playing Candyland, with its Gum Drop Mountain and Queen Frostine. So it’s no surprise infants are attracted to little packages of sweet-looking treats from the time they can crawl. (Your job is to offer healthy alternatives.)
But when kids started to munch on highly concentrated pods of laundry detergent that come in tasty-looking colors — icy blue, purple, green and the irresistible orange, white and blue swirl — it seemed to surprise the manufacturers. And it’s sending moms and their kids to the emergency room in ever-increasing numbers. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in May 2012 there were 443 reported incidences; by August monthly totals had increased to 735. Fortunately, there have been no reports of fatalities, but the detergent causes children to become, in the words of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, “extremely ill and require hospitalization.”
The good news? Now the Consumer Products Safety Commission is looking to create standards that will protect kids from potential danger, and industry representatives say they’re looking into kid-proofing the packets. But you don’t want to wait for that. In the meantime, here’s what the American Association of Poison Control Centers recommends:
• Keep all detergents (pods and otherwise) locked up and out of the reach of children.
• Follow the specific disposal instructions on the label.
• If you think a child has been exposed to a detergent packet, call poison control at 800-222-1222 immediately.
Staying ahead of psoriasis in the winter
With winter temperatures and humidity drops, staying ahead of psoriasis is not easy. Less sunlight, along with dry, cold air, triggers flare-ups. (Those things can affect other skin conditions, like eczema, too.)
Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the U.S. (affecting more than 7.5 million folks). It causes skin cells to multiply at an accelerated rate, piling up and causing patches of dry, itchy, sometimes painful skin.
So here are a few tips to keep skin in good shape when chill winds blow:
1. Get a flu shot (only when psoriasis or eczema is not flaring); the flu (or colds) can trigger flares.
2. Be vigilant about eating right (eliminate added sugars and sugar syrups, any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole, most saturated fats and all trans fats); get seven to eight hours of sleep a night; and wash your hands often.
3. Try oral doses of omegas — anecdotal evidence says 900 milligrams of DHA/omega-3, 210 milligrams of purified omega-7 or a couple of teaspoons of olive oil daily reduce the inflammation associated with psoriasis (and eczema).
4. If scaly patches get worse, ask your doc about a cortisone cream. A 1,000 IU daily D-3 supplement is smart, too. Your doctor also may try phototherapy and/or biologic drugs that block immune system cells that trigger psoriasis.
5. Use a home humidifier, and make sure it’s bacteria- and mold-free.
How to shop till you drop (a few pounds)
If you want to lose 10 pounds, start reading food labels. Women who always check out the ingredients have a body mass index that’s 1.5 points lower (about 10 pounds) than non-readers. Label reading is one of those good habits that helps reinforce healthy-living decisions. For even more success in making your best intentions (lowering BMI, blood pressure, blood glucose and bad LDL cholesterol) come true, here are more easy-to-adopt food shopping habits.
1. Walk into the grocery store with a shopping list that contains lots of fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins and 100 percent whole grains — and stick to it.
2. If you buy frozen veggies (and they’re still nutrient-packed!), skip the ones with added fats, sugars and sauces.
3. Try one new recipe a week using ingredients you don’t usually eat — artichokes? kale? salmon?
4. Don’t buy prepared food made with palm oil, palm kernel oil or coconut oil. They’re saturated fats that age you and can cause inflammation that packs on pounds.
Ha-way to heaven
Research shows moderately intense aerobic exercise builds your ability to deflect anxiety and snub stress. That makes you better able to make smart decisions, stick to a healthy life plan (give up fried foods and trans fats) and get in more canoodling with your sweetie.
So we bet you’re wondering: “What exactly is moderate exercise? And how can I get to be so calm under pressure?”
Moderate-intensity aerobics is working hard enough to break a sweat, raise your heart rate and still talk normally. Walking two miles in 30 minutes will do the trick, but that’s only about 3,800 steps. Sure, that’s a good start, but the goal is 10,000 a day. You’ll need a pedometer and new walking situations (no elevators, leave the car at home for a nearby errand, walk to colleagues’ offices instead of using instant messaging). Then when the boss yells, or the kids refuse to eat dinner, or your honey isn’t so sweet, well, you’ll just smile and think “What’s the Ha way to handle this?”
Sleeping pills no beauty
Millions of prescriptions for what are called “Z drugs” are written every year to treat sleep problems, and most of the folks who fill them get behind the wheel to go to work or shuttle the kids. Not a good idea; these sedatives make traffic accidents much more likely.
It takes three “half lives” of a Z-pill to make sure it’s gone from your system and your brain is clear. (Ask your pharmacist what your med’s half life is.)
A good night’s sleep has amazing, health-bestowing powers; sleeping pills often don’t get you those rewards, since they’re known to trigger amnesia for nocturnal eating and night excursions in the car. So here’s what you can do to sleep better:
• Follow set routines before bed; keep consistent to-bed times; and do nothing in the bedroom but sex and sleep.
• Use red nightlights in your bathroom (they won’t disrupt nighttime melatonin production — so vital for your health — like other wavelengths do.)
• For dinner, eat whole grains and light proteins; don’t eat after 8 p.m.
• Drink 8 ounces of tart cherry juice in the a.m. and again two hours before bed.
• Avoid caffeine after lunchtime.
• Don’t drink alcohol before bed; it can cause neurotransmitter shifts that pop you awake and make it harder to fall back asleep.