Can your diet make you sad?

AnAppleADayRebrand2Are you biting off more than you can chew? Depression is a common mental health problem, affecting one in 10 U.S. adults at some point in their lives. Depression causes difficulties in the workplace, an increased number of absent days and temporary disability. It also can have lasting consequences for health. 

Depression was once thought of as a purely psychological phenomenon or caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. As scientific knowledge increases, it is now known that depression can be triggered by inflammation, by exposure to infection and even by the foods we eat.

Inflammation is a function of the immune system and is caused by white blood cells and anti-infectious agents rushing to a site of injury or viral or bacterial invasion. Short-term inflammation is good for you, as it’s one of your immune defenses, but chronic inflammation as part of a long-term disease process can cause mental health problems.

The diet and mental health link

Your diet plays a key role in determining how much inflammation is in your body and the likelihood you may suffer from depression. People who eat more fruits and vegetables don’t suffer depression at the same rate as people who eat junk food. This is because fresh, unprocessed food contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants and nutrients that help the consumer avoid depression.

These foods also may also help you beat depression:

  • Omega 3 from fish and fish oil, eggs, plant oils like soy, rapeseed and flaxseed oil, leafy green vegetables and nuts and seeds.
  • Extra virgin olive oil. The Journal of the American Medical Association said people consuming a Mediterranean diet, including lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and fish had less risk of developing depressive disorders. 
  • Fresh vegetables. To get the best anti-inflammatory effect, you should aim to have five portions of brightly-colored vegetables every day. 
  • Fresh fruit. Purchase fruit in season because it tastes better and has more nutrients. 
  • Whole grains. You need to eat three to five portions of these a day.
  • Herbs and spices, such as garlic, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon, have anti-inflammatory effects. Garlic has a sulphur compound that is so powerful it helps ease arthritis and reduce the symptoms of depression. 

Baptist Health dietitian Lorrie Terry said Vitamin D also is recommended to fight depression.

“Other foods that can help ward off depression include magnesium, vitamin B12, iron and protein,” Terry said. “It is important to note that if you are taking a prescription for depression to not stop taking your medication unless you have first discussed with your physician. It also is important to discuss taking Omega 3 fatty acids with you physician because they can inhibit your ability to clot blood.”

Drink water

Lastly, don’t forget to drink water if you are feeling down or have been diagnosed with depression. Lack of water can cause dehydration, which can make people irritated and unable to concentrate.  

Send us your health and nutrition questions, and our team of dietitians will answer them in an upcoming blog. Check here each month for more tips and answers to your questions.

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Back-to-school reminder: Wash the germs away

24-7 NurseRebrandWe all know children don’t always practice the best hygiene, especially before eating meals or after going to the bathroom and making mud pies in the yard.

So, why should you keep encouraging them to wash their hands? Let us count the ways:

  • Germs! They can be transmitted many ways, including through dirty surfaces, sneezes and coughs or contact with a sick person.
  • Once they come into contact with germs, kids can become infected by touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Before you know it, the whole family is sick with the same virus.
  • Hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of everything from the common cold to meningitis and influenza. Stop it in its tracks!

How to wash your hands

Develop a routine of hand washing with your children. Start by washing your hands with warm water and soap, lathering up for about 20 seconds. Don’t overlook the wrists or between the fingers and under the nails. Rinse and dry with a clean towel.

When to wash your hands

Make frequent hand washing a rule of the house, especially during these times:

  • Before eating meals
  • After using the bathroom
  • Before and after visiting sick loved ones
  • After touching pets
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • After playing outside

Good hand washing habits can help you stay well. So can our nurses at Baptist Health Line. They welcome your questions. Just phone us any time at 270.575.2918.

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Join us for Pink Glove Dance 2013


This year, YOU can star in our Pink Glove Dance for breast cancer awareness.

For the first time, the hospital is inviting the community to don pink gloves when part of the video is filmed at the first ever McCracken County High School home football game on Aug. 24 and at the 100th anniversary of the Paducah Tilghman-Mayfield rivalry on Sept. 7. (Regular admission prices apply at each game.) 

Breast cancer survivors will be spotlighted.  “You can come out and enjoy some historic football and support breast cancer awareness at the same time,” said Dona Rains, director of marketing and planning at Baptist Health.

“During the last two years, we were overwhelmed by the region’s enthusiasm and support for our employee videos, so we wanted to find a way to expand this worthwhile project to include our community,” said Rains.

The video, which reminds women to get annual mammograms for early detection, will be released at during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

We will ask the public to vote for our video in October because the top three vote-getters in the national video contest will receive prizes up to $25,000 for the breast cancer charity of their choice.

Tonya and Jason 035In addition, this year each entrant must raise at least $2,000 for a separate charity. Baptist Health will sell pink “Your Fight is Our Fight” T-shirts to benefit its new Your Fight Cancer Fund, which provides assistance to local cancer patients. To order a T-shirt, phone 270.575.2780.

“You may wear your shirt when you appear in the video or just to promote the project, knowing the proceeds are benefiting local cancer patients,” Rains said.

Pink Glove Dance history

The original Pink Glove Dance video – sponsored by pink glove manufacturer Medline Industries Inc. – premiered in 2009, featuring a Portland, Ore., hospital. The next year, 17 facilities participated in videos.

In 2011, Baptist Health Paducah employees appeared in its first video, which finished sixth among 135 participants with 17,400 votes. Its video was viewed more than 32,000 times and spurred other videos at WPSD-TV and The Paducah Sun. Last year, the hospital’s video placed eighth out of 274 entries.

Medline donates a portion of the pink glove sales to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. To date, more than $1.2 million has been give to the foundation to fund mammograms for those who can’t afford them.

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Fire up the grill

AnAppleADayRebrand2There’s nothing better than firing up the grill on a summer afternoon – as long as you do it safely.

The grill should be considered an extension of your kitchen, and you should practice the same safety tips inside and out. First, wash your hands before, during and after food preparation. Bacteria can easily transfer from the body to foods and surfaces.

Next, follow these grilling tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • Use different brushes to baste raw and cooked meat. Wash brushes in hot, soapy water between uses.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check if meat is safe and ready to eat. Steak, fish and shrimp: 145 degrees F. Hamburgers: 160 degrees F. Chicken: 165 degrees F. Hot dogs: 165 degrees F or steaming.
  • Put all dishes in the refrigerator within two hours or one hour if weather is 90 degrees F or hotter.
  • Store leftovers in shallow, airtight containers. Write the date on top.
  • Leftover grilled foods have a refrigerator life of three to four days. Toss if you don’t eat it before then.

What are your favorite grilling tips?  Send them out way, along with your health and nutrition questions, and our team of dietitians will answer them in an upcoming blog.  Check here each month for more tips and answers to your questions.


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Tick, ticks and more ticks!

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How many ticks have you pulled off your pet, child or even yourself this summer? The Baptist Health Line phones have been busy with calls from people concerned about tick bites and prevention.

Ticks are small spiderlike animals that bite to fasten themselves onto the skin and feed on blood.

The most common are wood or dog ticks — brown or black, some with a white spot — that can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever. To remove, saturate a cotton ball or paper towel with dishwashing liquid. Apply it for several minutes until the tick detaches.  If not, pull the tick straight out with tweezers or your fingers. Wash with an antibacterial soap, and apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment one time. Mark your calendar with the date. See a doctor if a bull’s eye rash and flu-like symptoms or fever develop within two to four weeks.

Deer ticks are tiny brown ticks that are almost impossible to pick off. They transmit Lyme disease. Remove these by scraping off with a fingernail, credit card or anything with a smooth edge. Mark your calendar, and see a doctor if a rash or flu-like symptoms develop within 30 days.


Reduce your chances of tickborne disease by using repellants and showering after being outdoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, check these parts of the body after being outside:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  •  Inside belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around hair
  • Between the legs
  •  Around the waist

You can use products containing DEET (the active ingredient in insect repellents) on children. Make sure they wash their hands after application, so they won’t get it in their mouths or eyes. On toddlers and infants, spray a lower DEET concentration on your hands and wipe it on them. You can purchase products with a safe concentration of DEET, especially made for this age group.

Our nurses welcome your questions.  Just phone us anytime at 270.575.2918.

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How to know where to go

Medical PerspectiveDr. Gerald Russell has seen his share of medical emergencies in 24 years of emergency room work – real emergencies like heart attack, stroke and life-threatening injuries.

He and the Baptist Health Paducah team clicked into action recently when a school bus overturned and sent 13 high school girls into our department at one time – all while victims of two other accidents and assorted other emergencies were being treated.

RussellUnfortunately, he also has seen sore throats, aching backs and plenty of other conditions that no one can really call an emergency. Those complaints fill emergency departments, causing people to spend more time and money than they would if they’d sought treatment from more appropriate providers.

“It’s frustrating when you’re trained in emergency care,” he said, “to see people misuse the emergency department, when they really need to go to a walk-in clinic or perhaps just to the pharmacy.”

Such misuse is rampant.

England has an attention-getting ad campaign, “You can choose better,” making the same point quite graphically. Five folks are in line for the emergency department, each with a description of their symptoms, ranging from sore throat to minor cuts, and a notation that they should have sought treatment elsewhere. The last one in line is a wreath with the notation: “Severe chest pain. Should have been at the front of the queue.”choose better

Of course, chest pain, stroke and other life-threatening conditions or injuries are moved to the “front of the line” in our triage process.

But people with non-life-threatening conditions could have saved time and trouble by seeking more appropriate treatment, such as:

SELF CARE for sore throats, colds, upset stomachs, minor cuts

The sore throat should have been treated at home. One should keep fever/pain reducers, such as acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen, at home, along with anti-diarrheal medication, heartburn remedies, bandages and a thermometer. The old adage of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” works surprisingly well for most minor illnesses and injuries.

ASK US OR YOUR PHARMACIST when you’re unsure

Those unsure or confused about an illness should talk to one of our Baptist Health Line nurses – free, anytime 24/7 – at 270.575.2918. Also, your pharmacist can provide helpful information and treatment suggestions for minor complaints, such as coughs, colds and toothaches.

SEE A PROFESSIONAL if you don’t get better

You need a primary care physician, who keeps your records and knows your history. If you don’t have one or can’t see yours when you need to, you can visit a walk-in clinic, such as Baptist Health Prime Care (open late during the week and on Saturdays) to see a doctor; or you can see a nurse practitioner for minor complaints at Baptist Express Care in the local Walmarts – all for non-life-threatening conditions.

CALL 911 AND GET TO THE ER for life- or limb-threatening emergency

When should you go to the ER? If the condition is life- or limb-threatening (or could be), such as chest pain or stroke symptoms, inability to breathe, uncontrollable bleeding, unconscious, the sudden onset of severe headaches or neurological issues.

Why shouldn’t you drive to the ER? EMS can begin treatment immediately while their drivers get you safely through traffic quickly. They can even transmit vital information – EKG results, blood types and other data – so the emergency department is ready to begin appropriate treatment when you arrive.

In life or death emergencies, seconds matter. Trained emergency professionals, like Dr. Russell, can offer timely treatment to preserve precious heart muscle or brain tissue to reduce the effects of heart attack and stroke. They can save your life. Really, do you want to take your sore throat to them?

Make the right choices about your medical care, so they can help you when a true emergency hits.

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Myth vs. truth about preventing heart disease

AnAppleADayRebrand2By Lorrie Terry, Western Baptist dietitian

Heart disease is responsible for approximately 25 percent of deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Behavior and lifestyle choices, including smoking and eating fast food at least twice a week, increase your risk of developing heart disease.

Oftentimes, people research their symptoms and risk factors on the Internet, but the information may not be reliable. The February issue of “Today’s Dietitian” shared the following myths vs. facts concerning heart disease:

Myth 1: Everyone experiences the same heart attack symptoms.

Fact: Men and women can experience different symptoms of a heart attack. Most often the feeling of a crushing sensation and radiation to the arm is common. However, women may experience more subtle type of symptoms or signs, such as jaw aches, nausea, vomiting, breathlessness and decreased energy.

Myth 2: Chocolate is good for your heart.

Fact: Not all chocolate is created equally. A Swedish study found small quantities of dark chocolate helped improved blood pressure control. Why? Dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of flavonoids to benefit heart and vascular benefits. The key is SMALL amounts. The saturated fats can outweigh the benefits, if you overindulge. Eating a variety of heart healthy foods, such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains, is beneficial for heart health and can be low in calories.

Myth 3: Eggs can be eaten with abandon.

Fact: The opinion on the consumption of eggs has varied over the years. Overall, experts continue to agree egg whites are very healthy. A whole egg with the yolk contains more cholesterol because of the cholesterol in the yellow or yolk of an egg. The American Heart Association recommends that anyone wishing to lower their LDL cholesterol or overall heart disease risk should limit cholesterol intake to 200 mg, and just one egg contains more than this.

Myth 4: Only a regular, strenuous exercise program will improve heart health.

Fact: Consistent, regular exercise is beneficial. Spending just 15 minutes of walking is better than not doing any exercise at all. Walking, jogging, biking and swimming are very important for heart disease patients because it strengthens the heart and lowers the amount of work the heart has to do.

Myth 5: Heart Disease is in my genes, so I can’t prevent it.

Fact: Family history does increase your risk of having to deal with a heart disease issue sometime in your future. Your risk of heart attack and stroke can be decreased if you focus on risk factors earlier than later in life.

The facts:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Limit salt and alcohol
  • Avoid tobacco and tobacco products
  • Exercise consistently
  • Control stress

Send us your health and nutrition questions, and our team of dietitians will answer them in an upcoming blog.

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