A study done at the University of Central Florida shows that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may actually learn best when they are moving. According to the study recently published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, movements such as foot-tapping and leg-swinging help the children to work out complex cognitive tasks. This goes against the prevailing approach that children with ADHD must learn how to sit still in order to fit into a traditional classroom setting. You can read more about this topic on the Science Daily blog.
Now that the weather is beginning to warm up, it’s time again to think about sunscreens. There are a lot of options on the market, but they are not all created equal. Luckily, the Environmental Working Group maintains a helpful listing of the brands that contain the least toxic ingredients while still proving effective sun protection.
Here are some general tips to keep you and your family healthy and happy in the sun:
- Choose an SPF between 20 and 50
A sunscreen with an SPF less than 20 is unlikely to be very effective, but a higher SPF (i.e. above 50) usually means more chemicals without much added sun protection. SPF is an abbreviation for sun protection factor and only refers to protection against UVB rays that burn the skin. However, it is UVA rays that cause skin aging and can promote skin cancer. High SPF sunscreens can give you a false sense of protection, because although they may keep you from burning, they don’t necessarily protect you from skin cancer causing UVA rays.
- Apply it correctly!
Sunscreen only works if you use it right. To be effective mostly sunscreen needs to be applied 15 to 20 minutes before sun exposure and should be reapplied at least every 2 hours. Even if you choose a “Sport” or “Water Resistant” variety sunscreen needs to be reapplied after 80 minutes of swimming or vigorous exercise that causes you to sweat. You also need to reapply immediately after towel drying.
- Skip the sprays
Spray sunscreens may seem like easy, hassle-free options, but they make it difficult to tell if they are being applied correctly and they pose potential inhalation risks.
- Avoid toxic chemicals
Specifically, steer clear of: oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and retinyl palmitate. The Environmental Working Group provides a good explanation of why these ingredients are best avoided. Instead of chemical sunscreens, look for mineral based options that contain zinc oxide, a natural ingredient that protects against dangerous UVA rays.
- Avoid sun exposure during the hottest hours of the day
If at all possible, avoid prolonged exposure during the times of day when the sun is directly overhead, usually 12-3pm. This will help protect skin from aging and damage that could increase your risk of skin cancer.
Not surprisingly, a recent study found that people around the world are generally living longer lives than ever before with less cases of childhood mortality. While this is obviously great news, does this also mean that humans are healthier now than in the past? Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. In most countries there have been strides over the last hundred years in better hygiene and living conditions, increased access to vaccinations, and less risk of starvation. While all of this has allowed more humans to live to old age, it doesn’t always equate to greater health status for these people. As an article in the newspaper, the Oregonian points out, “With more children surviving, chronic illnesses and disabilities that strike later in life are taking a bigger toll, the research said. High Blood Pressure has become the leading health risk worldwide, followed by smoking and alcohol.” Chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are quickly overtaking infectious disease as the top health priority world-wide.
Luckily, most chronic diseases are considered preventable. There is a great deal that we can do, both as individuals and as a matter of policy, to address and turn around these statistics. There are many organizations working to promote health education, access to fresh fruits and vegetables to poor and urban communities, and safe and fun ways for children and adults to exercise. Here are just a few:
Ending Childhood Obesity Project: Portland, Oregon
Portland Fruit Tree Project: Portland, Oregon
Spiral Gardens Community Food Security: Berkeley, California
Edible School Yard: Berkeley, California
Most people agree, the shortage in primary care doctors is a real problem. Here are some statistics from a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News:
So, what can we do about this? How about making it possible for a group of licensed doctors, already trained in primary care and excited be in this role, to gain the legal recognition necessary to fulfill this need on a national level. There are perhaps 400-500 naturopaths graduating every year from accredited schools, but most graduates end up moving to one of the 17 states where naturopathic doctors are currently licensed. By creating legal recognition on a nationwide scale, naturopathic doctors would be able to spread out and help meet the need for primary care doctors throughout the nation. If your state does not already license and regulate naturopathic medicine, contact your legislators and let them know you want access to licensed Naturopathic Doctors.
Additionally, the Affordable Care Act states that insurance companies must allow you to choose to receive medical services from any practitioner licensed to provide that care. Many insurance companies are still not following the law. If your insurance company does not cover naturopathic services ask them why they are not following the Affordable Care Act. You can also find out more about legislative advocacy by going to the website of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
I find that many people are surprised that Naturopathic Doctors go through a full four years of medical training. Although there are many differences between Naturopathic and Medical Doctors, our basic education is actually very similar. Naturopathic Doctors go through thousands of hours of basic sciences, medical sciences, and clinical training, along with extra training in nutrition, herbal medicine, and homeopathy, all so that we can provide the best possible care for our patients.
The charts below compare the clinical and basic science educations of various practitioners. number of educational hours students receive at various accredited naturopathic and medical colleges. It also compares the differences in education of Naturopathic Doctors who attend accredited medical schools and unlicensed naturopaths who attend two-year vocational schools. There are currently six accredited naturopathic colleges in the U.S. and two in Canada. In states that do not license and regulate naturopaths, the difference can be quite confusing! If you live in a state that does not currently license naturopathic medicine and you are in doubt, you can always ask your naturopath about their education and credentials.
You can also find listings of licensed Naturopathic Doctors in your area by checking out the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. If you would like to see Naturopathic Doctors licensed in your state, write your legislators and let them know this is an important issue to you.
Here’s how the schools measure up:
Ever want to know what happens when your body tries to digest different types of food? Media artist, Stefani Bardin and Dr. Braden Kuo, M.D. may have the answer for you. Dr. Kuo is Assistant Physician, Gastroenterology Unit and Director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kuo and Ms. Bardin recently collaborated on a video where two patients swallow small cameras and then eat two different meals, one highly processed and one handmade. The results are quite interesting and may have you thinking about food in a new way.