Friday, June 22, 2007


A summertime food survival guide

Blueberries, watermelon, ice tea, lemonade, grilling, summer salads….all come to mind for this favorite time of year. June 21 marks the first day of summer. For most of us, eating habits may change a bit. Let that change work in your favor. Build healthy habits this summer.

Pick your own produce

There is no better time of year to get your fill of fresh fruits and vegetables. Aim for 7-9 servings per day and get a rainbow of nutrients. Combine a fruit and vegetable in a summer salad to pack in powerful phytonutrients. Pears or grapes accompany mixed greens beautifully. Top with nuts or seeds for an extra punch.
Blueberries, Raspberries, Peaches are soon to be available. Check your local orchard for availability.

A farmer’s market is a great way to get the freshest selection of produce possible. The Norwich Downtown Farmer’s Market is held each Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Howard Brown Park on Chelse Harbor Drive through Oct. 31. Click here to find other farmers' markets.

Drink wisely
ommercial iced teas and lemonades can pack in loads of sugar and add unnecessary calories. A 16-oz serving of sweetened iced tea mix can contain 120-140 calories and 34-36 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent of 8-9 teaspoons of sugar. Among the first ingredients, as you might guess, is not tea – it is sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. A 12-oz can of soda adds about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Skip it in order to avoid the empty calories.

Making your own is a simple solution. Brew your own tea and control the amount of sweetener you add. Have fun with flavors. Try fusing herbal fruit teas with traditional. Try iced green tea and you’ll be adding some healthy antioxidants to your day.

In hot weather water is the best source of hydration. A water cooler can be a wise investment: water is always cold and always accessible, and serves as a constant visible reminder to stay hydrated.

Grill Safely
Grilling is a great summer pastime. But be safe when cooking outdoors by remembering the Partnership for Food Safety Education’s Four Food Safety Tips:

 Clean: hands and surfaces thoroughly.
 Separate: Don’t cross contaminate. Keep raw foods and cooked foods separate. So don’t reuse that plate you carried those raw burgers to the grill. Get a clean one. Also remember to discard marinades. Too often people pour any left-over marinate on top of their cooked foods. Any harmful bacteria in the raw food have contaminated this marinade.
 Cook: to safe temperature -- Steaks - 145 °F; hamburgers - 160 °F; fish: 145°F; chicken breasts - 170 °F; and hot dogs - 165 °F.
 Chill: Refrigerate promptly. Refrigerate foods within 2 hours, or1 hour if it’s very hot outside.Also, when defrosting raw foods do so in the fridge, not on the counter.

There are ways to grill and eat healthy. Instead of beef, try turkey or veggie burgers. A whole wheat bun adds fiber and great taste. Grilled vegetables are always a healthy choice, and the latest craze is grilling fruit. Try grilling nectarines, peaches, and pineapples.

Have a happy and healthy summer.

Renee Frechette is a registered dietitian who serves as the outpatient oncology dietitian in the The William W. Backus Hospital’s Radiation Therapy Center. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Frechette and all of the Healthy Living columnists at

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Aphasia: A neurological challenge

June is National Aphasia Awareness Month. Aphasia is the total or partial inability to use or understand language. It is typically the result of stroke, brain disease or injury. These patients have no intellectual impairment and no outward sign of handicap.

There are two broad categories of aphasia:
1. Non-fluent or motor aphasia is an inability to enunciate words. Patients with this form of aphasia fully understand language and accommodate for their loss of speech by writing or drawing responses.
2. Fluent or receptive aphasia is an inability to understand words. These patients will often have difficulty finding the right word or following a command. They will sometimes make up new words to try and express their thoughts.

Injuries causing aphasia involve the dominant brain hemisphere which contains the neural pathways necessary for speech. In 95% of right-handed people and a majority of left-handed people, this is the left hemisphere.

Aphasia is a treatable condition. Speech pathologists are trained to perform detailed testing to fully analyze the extent of the impairment and implement a rehabilitation program. These programs require intense effort and patience on the part of people with aphasia. Newly designed computer software provides drills for patients as they retrain the neural pathways necessary for speech.

Recovery is often incomplete and can be frustrating for patients and those around them. Speaking slowly is essential, as is calmly waiting for a response. Aphasic patients are not deaf, yet there is often an inclination to speak loudly to someone who has a speech deficit.

Aphasia represents a fascinating neurological condition. If someone you know is recovering from aphasia, applaud their efforts and never underestimate their intellectual ability.
Anthony G. Alessi, MD, is a neurologist on The William W. Backus Hospital Medical Staff with a private practice at NeuroDiagnostics, LLC in Norwich. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Dr. Alessi and all of the Healthy Living columnists at


Following some simple rules can help summer fun stay safe

Wet spring days will soon be behind us and summer is fast approaching. With longer and warmer days, all of us are eager to get out and enjoy the outdoors. With all our enthusiasm, a certain amount of caution and awareness will go long way in helping us enjoy what we do and prevent some unnecessary problems associated with being outdoors.

Fun in the sun
Following a few general rules will help prevent some of the nasty sunburns I have seen in my office:

Avoid exposure to sun and dress infants younger than six months with long pants and long sleeve shirts, cotton of course.

Keep infants in shade whenever possible and avoid using sunscreen. For infants older than 6 months and young children, use of sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15.

Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out if possible. Perhaps apply sunscreen before you start your trip to the beach rather than apply just before getting in the water. Remember to apply every two hours, especially after swimming.

Be sure to apply enough sunscreen -- about 1 ounce for a young adult.

Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours -- between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and do not forget sun glasses.

Keep the bugs out
Here are some tips to avoid them:

Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in full bloom.

Avoid using scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child or yourself.

Don't where bright colors, which can attract insects.

Don't use a combination sunscreen/insect repellent products, because sun screen needs to be reapplied every two hours, and bug spray should not be reapplied. Choose sprays containing DEET, as it is one of the most effective insect repellent against mosquitoes and ticks. Please note DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age.

Keep cool in hot sun
Avoid prolonged strenuous activity on hot days.

Make sure children are well-hydrated before starting any physical activity and enforce frequent breaks, for example, every 20 minutes.

Preferably drink cold tap water rather than a sports drink.

Avoid games or practice on really hot days.

Wear light-colored and light-weight clothing and change sweat drenched clothes for dry ones.
Have a happy -- and safe -- summer.
Ravi Prakash, MD, is Chief of Pediatrics at The William Backus Hospital with a private pediatric office in Norwich. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Dr. Prakash and all of the Healthy Living columnists at

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