Got Arthritic Knees? Try Tai Chi -
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

Researchers investigating the effectiveness of the ancient Chinese martial art, Tai Chi for the  treatment of osteoarthritis found that not only did it work as well as physical therapy, it also significantly relieved depression among the study participants.
(Source: HealthDay[Internet]. HealthDay;©2016. Tai Chi: Rx for Arthritic Knees; 2016 May 23[cited 2016 May 31]. Available from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_158988.html

Summary of the research is available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_158988.html

Journal article abstract is available at : http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2522435

Use the News

Anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy are standard treatments for osteoarthritis better known as the “the wear and tear” arthritis. Drugs aim to reduce swelling and pain in the joints while physical therapy aims to strengthen the muscles that contribute to healthy knee function. Tai Chi, on the other hand, is a more than 5000 year old Chinese mind-body practice that combines meditation with slow, gentle, graceful movements, deep breathing, and relaxation. It improves strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance.

 If you have osteoarthritis and are looking for an alternative or an addition to your present treatment routine, you might want to give Tai Chi a try. 

Tai Chi classes are held in a variety of locations throughout the community including yoga and/or tai chi centers, the YMCA, gyms or athletic centers, and martial arts schools.

For More information

Harvard Medical School – The health benefits of tai chi

Arthritis Foundation and Tai Chi (video)

A New Food Label is Coming
by Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

Last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  unveiled an updated  nutrition label to help us make more informed choices about the foods we eat. Food manufactures will be required to use the new label by July, 2018.

Here’s what’s different on the new label (on right above):

  • The calorie and serving size information is larger and bold.
  • The servings sizes are more in line with the amount of food we actually eat. For example, a serving size of ice cream increased from ½ cup to 2/3 cup and with it the calories per serving increased from 145 to 180.
  • The amount of added sugar is now included as a separate item.
  •   Both per servings and per package calorie and nutrition information on multiple- serving food items, like ice cream, chips, etc., is provided on foods where someone could eat the whole package at one sitting. For example, a once ounce serving of potato chips has about 155 calories, but if you eat a whole “party” size bag (13 oz), that’s 13 servings, and over 2000 calories. You’ll now know this without doing the math!
  • Vitamin D and potassium content is now included along with the actual amounts in micrograms and milligrams of these, and of calcium and iron. Vitamin A and C contents are gone because deficiencies in these are rare.  
  • Grams of total fat, saturated fat and transfat are still there, but calories from fat are gone. Research shows the type of fat we eat is more important than the number of calories we get from fat. (If you want to know how many fat calories you are eating, multiply the grams of fat by 9. Fat contains 9 calories per gram of food.)
Source: Food and Drug Administration (2016). Changes to the nutrition facts label. Retrieved May 22, 2016 from http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm

For more information from the FDA on the new food labels:



Driving increases risk of cataracts and skin cancer on left side of face.

Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

Research published last week in the JAMA  Ophthalmology  may have the explanation as to
why cataracts occur more frequently in the left eye and why skin cancer on the face occurs more frequently on the left side – car windows!   While car windshields block out, on average, 96% of the UVA rays associated with the development of both cataracts and skin cancer, the driver side window, on average, only blocks 71% of the UVA rays. (Depending on the car, the range is between 44
96%).  The lower rate of protection from the driver side window may explain the higher rates of left eye cataracts and left side facial skin cancers.

The complete journal article is at: http://archopht.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2522190

Summary of this article is at: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/310213.php

Use this news

There are two types of ultraviolet light, UVA and UVB. Both increase risk of skin damage which can result in skin cancer. Regular glass blocks UVB,  but unfortunately, it does not block UVA. And because exposure to UV light and its damaging effects are cumulative, being exposed to UVA from driving leads to an increase risk of skin cancer and cataracts.

To reduce your exposure to UVA while in the cars, the Skin Cancer Foundation offers these tips:

1.        Install transparent film on all windows
Window film can block out almost 100% of UV A and B, but remember, it only works when the windows are up!

2.      Keep sunscreen in the car and USE IT!
The sunscreen should be at least SPF 15, and contain a combination of the following UVA blockers: avobenzone, ecamsule, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. Use it on your face, neck, ears and scalp.

3.      Wear a hat if you have a  sunroof or a convertible.
A hat with a 3” brim in addition to sunscreen will reduce your exposure to the damaging effects of UV rays.

4.      Keep your left arm in the car
Avoid hanging your left elbow out the window. Use sunscreen on your arm. For more protection, wear long sleeves.

5.      Wear sunglasses
The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers these guidelines for buying sunglasses:

  •  Make sure they say 100% UV protection.

  • Aim for oversized glasses or ones that wrap around to reduce UV  entering your eyes from the sides.

  • Dark lenses and different colors don’t necessarily block out UV better. It’s the percent 100%  UV protection your looking for.

More information

Sun hazards in cars

Sun safety in cars

Window film


Hepatitis C is killing more of us each year than any other infectious disease.  
by Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control published last week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, hepatitis C killed almost 20,000 Americans in 2013. More of us died from hepatitis C than from 60 other infectious diseases combined, including HIV and TB, with ‘baby boomers’ at greatest risk.

Summary: Preidt, R. Hepatitis C Now Leading Infectious Disease Killer in U.S. [Internet] HealthDay;2016 May 4 [cited 2016 May 8] Available from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_158651.html

Use This News

Hepatitis C is a virus that infects the liver. Prior to 1992, it spread most commonly through blood transfusions and transplanted organs from people who had the disease, which is why “baby boomers” are more likely to be infected. Since 1992 when strict screening of blood and organ donations for hepatitis C was put into place, the most common ways it spreads is through sharing needles or syringes for injecting drugs, being stuck by a needle in a health care setting that contains blood from an infected person, or being born to a mom with the virus. Other less common ways are from using an infected person’s razor or toothbrush, since there may be blood on these items, or from sexual contact.

The hepatitis C virus is pretty tough as virus’s go, being able to ‘survive’ outside the body on hard surfaces (counter tops, bathroom sinks, door knobs etc.,) for up to three weeks. To give you a comparison, the flu virus only survives outside the body on hard surfaces for 2 – 8 hours.  Cleaning surfaces with a 1 part bleach to 10 parts water solution will kill the virus. (1/4 cup bleach mixed in 2 ½ cups water.)

Don’t think you’ll watch out for the symptoms, because in up to 80% of cases, there aren’t any!  This is why so many of us are infected and don’t know it.

When there are symptoms, they usually take 6 – 7 weeks to show up, but can happen anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months after being infected. They start off with a fever, tiredness, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting and joint pain all of which are common symptoms of other viral infections, so can be easily mistaken for the flu, for example.  But, with hepatitis C you’ll also have pain in the abdomen, very dark urine, bowel movements the color of clay, and the biggest telltale sign - the whites of your eyes will turn yellow, as will your skin.  

For up to 85% of people with hepatitis C, the virus remains in their livers for the rest of their lives, being able to be spread to others through their blood. For many of them, it will end up causing liver failure, cirrhosis, liver cancer and for almost 20,000 people a year, they will die from it, as the report above showed.

So, the take home message from this is – get tested for hepatitis C. All it takes is a blood test to find out if you had or still have the virus. Talk to your health care provider if you:

  •  were born between 1945 through 1965
  • were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987.
  • received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992.
  • are on long-term hemodialysis treatment.
  • have abnormal liver tests or liver disease.
  • work in health care or were exposed to blood through a needle stick
    or other sharp object injury.
  • are infected with HIV.
  • currently or formerly used injection drug, even if you only injected one time or did so many years ago.
There is treatment available for hepatitis C, but the first step is finding out if you have the virus.

For more information:

Centers for Disease Control

World Health Organization – Fact sheet

National Institutes of Health

No time to exercise?

With “SIT” (Sprint Interval Training), one minute is all you need

By: Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

According to research published in the April 27, 2016 issue of PLoS One , three 20 second bursts of intense exercise sandwiched between lighter exertion levels had the same beneficial effect on sedentary men as 45 minutes of moderate exercise – improved heart and lung function, insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation.  The “ sprint interval training” used for the study was a two minute warm up on an exercise bike, followed by three 20 second sprints with two minutes of easy cycling in between each sprint, and a three minute cool down – a total of 10 minutes – three times a week for 12 weeks.

Summary of study is at: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/309682.php
Complete journal article is at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075#sec025

Use this news

This is an easy, effective and time efficient way to improve your health. If you use an exercise bike, give this approach a try. But, it’s not just for people who cycle. It can be done with any exercise or activity-  swimming, skating, dancing, hiking, and of course walking, jogging or running.

If you already have a walking routine, try adding short bursts of jogging in between brisk walking. If you walk at a more leisurely pace, then add intervals of brisk walking. Start slowly and if you have a heart condition, check with your health care professional before making any changes to your exercise regime.  If you want more formal interval training, work with a personal trainer.

Using the protocol from the research study above, a 10 minute brisk walk would look like this:

For more information:

Mayo Clinic – Interval Training

References: Gillen JB, Martin BJ, MacInnis MJ, Skelly LE, Tarnopolsky MA, Gibala MJ (2016) Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0154075. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154075