Category Archives: Parish Nurse

From the desk of Parish Nurse Kara – Cold Weather Season and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Every year in Illinois, the glorious days of summer lead to the cooler days of fall and eventually the bone-chilling cold of winter. Hats, scarves, thick coats and gloves become a necessity when venturing outside. To keep our indoor spaces comfortable, the indoor thermostats are inched a little warmer and furnaces start to work more frequently.

Every year, like clockwork, this is the time that calls to poison centers regarding carbon monoxide start to rise. Calls to the Illinois Poison Center in the October- December time period are usually about 50% higher than the June-September months. Every year, over 400 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning, many during the cold weather season. <!–split–>

Why does carbon monoxide poisoning go up in the fall/winter months compared to summer?  Most commonly, it is due to inefficient, malfunctioning furnaces. When natural gas is burned, an efficient heater will create carbon dioxide (CO2) and water during combustion. A faulty heater that has incomplete burning of natural gas will create carbon monoxide (CO) and water.

 How bad is carbon monoxide?  Carbon Monoxide is a gas that causes injury and death in two ways. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues. CO binds to hemoglobin in our red cells which prevents oxygen from binding to the hemoglobin. Since oxygen cannot be carried by the CO poisoned red cells, the organs of the body essentially suffocate from lack of oxygen. CO also binds to the energy producing machinery in the cells (the electron transport chain) and prevents cells from making ATP which is the energy needed for cells to function. Without ATP, the cells begins to malfunction and can die. Organs that are most sensitive to the effects of inhaled carbon monoxide include the heart and brain.

Common symptoms/signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Visual changes
  • Fainting
  • Seizure
  • Memory problems
  • Walking problems
  • Shortness of breath on exertion
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

So how can I prevent injury to myself and family this winter?  Here are some recommended ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning this winter.

  • Check and service furnaces and other heaters (e.g. space heater, water heater) on a yearly basis. Sometimes heaters that were working perfectly the last time they were used in April do not function correctly in November. Annual maintenance checks, prior to cold season, can save lives.
  • Gasoline powered generators are commonly used during an extended power loss and are a deadly source of carbon monoxide—one portable generator can produce the same amount of CO as 100 idling cars.
  • Never operate a generator in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space such as a basement, garage, barn, or enclosed porch.
  • Place generators at least 20 feet away from any doors or windows—buy an appropriate electrical cord that is sufficiently long.
  • Make sure there are functioning carbon monoxide detectors in the home. Even if the furnace was just checked, this will be a lifesaver if something happens and the furnace or other gas powered device malfunctions. It is Illinois law that every home should have a carbon monoxide detector installed within 15 feet of rooms used for sleeping.
  • Regular Checks: Perform regular checks on the detectors to ensure they are working properly and the batteries are up to date. A common recommendation from fire departments is to change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at daylight savings time.
  • Expiration Dates: CO detectors have varied expiration dates, but if unsure, consider replacing it. Many newer COalarms have end-of-life indicators. Replace all CO detectors/alarms according to manufacturer’s instructions, orwhen the end-of-life signal sounds.
  • If your CO detector alarms, if you have any questions or are concerned about carbon monoxide poisoning, call the experts at the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for information and treatment advice.

May you have a safe and blessed Christmas.

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

From the desk of Parish Nurse Kara

The Horn of Plenty is a symbol which often evokes a sense of thankfulness and fulfillment. But if all you see is a bunch of squash, and you don’t like squash, this image will probably not make you feel happy or grateful! Harvard Health News, published by Harvard Medical School, reported that gratitude is associated with greater happiness. When a person feels grateful, they experience an increase in positive emotions, improved physical and mental health, are able to deal with adversity better, can strengthen relationships, and can relish the good times more thoroughly. <!–split–>

There are many ways to feel and express gratitude. When applied to their past, people can retrieve good memories, and feel thankful for childhood or past blessings. In the present, don’t take things for granted—enjoy and be grateful for the here and now. The future is best approached with hope and optimism.

Not feeling the gratitude yet? Thant’s okay, because you can cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is a form of appreciation for what you have. If you are constantly searching for the next new thing, hoping for satisfaction, that satisfaction won’t be found. By focusing on what you have over what you lack, you will find that life satisfaction grows stronger the more you practice gratitude.

Here are a few ways to practice a GRATITUDE ATTITUDE:

WRITE A THANK YOU LETTER: to make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person, consider writing and sending a thank you letter. If you are able, personally deliver the letter and read it to them. Make a habit of writing at least one thank you letter once a month.

THANK SOMEONE MENTALLY: is writing difficult? Use your brain and heart to thank someone who has done something nice for you. Remember their kindness and enjoy the memory.

KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL: get a notebook and write down thoughts about gifts and blessings you’ve received each day. You’ll be surprised at how many times you are blessed each day!

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS: choose a time each week to sit down and write about your blessings. It’s helpful to pick a number such as 3 or 5 things to reflect on. Write your thoughts down, and think about how you felt when something good happened to you.

PRAY: Prayers of thanksgiving strengthens our gratitude journey.

MEDITATION OR MINDFULNESS: take time every day to focus on the present moment, without judging yourself. Some people focus on a word or phrase, such as love or peace, but you can focus on what you are grateful for, such as a pleasant sound like shared laughter, or the warmth of your home.


In this season of celebrating Thanksgiving, may each of you feel gratitude and happiness in your whole being . . . Physically, mentally, and spiritually.

(reprinted with permission from Laura Brown, RN, Parish Nurse)

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

Sleep Is For The B.R.A.I.N.

Build-Up Removal: Your brain is a garbage can! Harmful waste proteins collect between brain cells during waking hours. These toxins are washed away during sleep (Glymphatic System). <!–split–>

Regulation of Mood: Good sleep is required to allow time for the cognitive or “thinking” parts of your brain to connect with the emotional areas of your brain, to keep your mood stable and well balanced (PrefrontalCortex/Amygdala).

Aid In Memory and Learning: Sleep plays a critical role in helping a person focus and learn efficiently. It is also needed to keep a memory stable in the brain and allow you to recall that information in the future (Cerebrum and Hippocampus).

Internal Clock Rhythm: Circadian rhythm is the natural system designed to regulate sleepiness and wakefulness. Light is a strong driver of this system, traveling through the eyes’ retina, sending messages to the brain to stay alert (Suprachiasmatic Nucleus).

Navigate Judgement: The “reward center” of the brain, where we derive pleasure can be negatively affected if you do not get enough sleep. You are more likely to take risks, like drowsy driving or using drugs.

How Poor Sleep Affects You

  • Weight Gain: Inadequate sleep can lead to obesity in many ways. Hormones that regulate weight (leptin and ghrelin) do not function properly. You are less active and therefore burn less calories, when you don’t get enough sleep. Lastly, as a source for quick energy to combat the fatigue, studies show you are more likely to eat carbohydrates or foods high in fat that contribute to weight gain.
  • Cardiac Disease: Poor sleep leads to hardening of the arteries in the heart (atherosclerosis) and a higher rate of death among patients with heart disease. Sleeping less than 6 hours a night or more than 9 hours a night has been associated with more cardiovascular events, like heart attack or stroke. Improving sleep, along with better nutrition and exercise, needs to be part of any healthy heart plan.
  • Dementia: There is a relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s related proteins (beta-amyloid and tau). When sleep is poor, these proteins build up in parts of the brain important for memory and sleep regulation. As sticky clumps of the proteins spread, people increasingly struggle to think clearly.
  • Immune Function: You are more likely to get sick if you don’t get enough sleep or the quality of your sleep is poor, due to decrease in the production of protective proteins (cytokines). Also, the lack of sleep delays your recovery from an illness or injury.
  • Diabetes: With ongoing sleep loss, hormones get out of whack, putting you at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Less of the hormone that regulates blood sugar (insulin) is released after you eat and your body secretes more stress hormone (cortisol) in an effort to help you stay awake effectively. The end result: A high level of blood sugar in the body.

Learn more at

Your Parish Nurse,  Kara

Influenza Prevention

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. <!–split–>

Signs and Symptoms

Flu may cause some or all of these signs and symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish, chills
  • Cough and sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue/feeling very tired
  • Vomiting/diarrhea (more common in kids than adults)
How Flu Spreads

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can and in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own face, mouth, eyes, or nose.

Period of Contagion

Fancy words for ”when you can spread your flu germs to others”. You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you even realize you’re infected! Most healthy adults are able to infect others beginning one day before developing symptoms and up to 7 days after becoming sick. Some folks especially young children (who don’t control their germ-sharing activities) might be able to infect others for even longer.

How Serious is the Flu?

Flu is unpredictable and the severity of symptom will vary from season to season depending on

  • What strains of flu viruses are spreading
  • How much flu vaccine is available
  • How many people get vaccinated
  • How well the vaccine matches the flu viruses that are causing illness in that season

Some people are at greater risk for the most serious complication of the flu including older adults, young children, pregnant women and people with serious chronic health conditions. Complications can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions.

The single best way to prevent getting the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. The vaccine does not provide instant protection. It takes 2-3 weeks for a person’s immune system to react to the vaccine, producing a protective level of antibodies. The flu vaccine cannot protect against other flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses. The seasonal flu vaccine is formulated with the 3 flu viruses that scientists from the CDC believe will be the most likely to cause epidemics that year. Vaccinations usually begin in September or as soon as the vaccine becomes available and continues into Spring. While flu season can begin as early as October, it usually peaks in January, February and March. Summer flu infections are also possible although less likely.

The Covid-19 Virus also presents with “cold” or flu like symptoms. This virus also continues to evolve and mutate. While it is recommended for almost everyone to be vaccinated it is a personal choice just like the flu vaccine. Protect yourself and your loved ones as much as possible. Wear a mask when out in public places if you feel more comfortable. Wash your hands and get plenty of rest, exercise and healthy foods.

Hearing Loss and Deafness

Hearing Loss is defined as a condition (permanent or temporary, mild or severe) that prevents a person from receiving and understanding sounds. Depending on the degree of loss, it may have a lot or a little impact on performance or involvement in life’s activities.

Deafness is defined as a condition that prevents a person from receiving sound in all or most of its forms: a hearing impairment that is so severe that the person cannot process sound information, with or without amplification (i.e. “hearing aids”). <!–split–>

Hearing is one of our five senses, giving us access to sounds in the world around us…people’s voices, the honk of a car horn, sirens or other alarms sounding safety warnings, music, and more… Sound is measured by its loudness (or intensity, measured in units called decibels or dB) and is frequency (or pitch, measured in units called hertz or Hz. Impairments in hearing may occur in either or both of these areas, and may exist in only one ear or in both ears.

Hearing loss is generally described as one of four types:
  • Conductive hearing loss is caused by diseases or obstructions in the outer or middle ear. Conductive hearing losses usually affect all frequencies of hearing evenly and don’t result in severe loss of hearing. A person with a conductive hearing loss is usually able to use a hearing aid well or can be helped medically or surgically.
  • Sensor neural hearing loss results from damage to the delicate sensory hair cells of the inner ear or the nerves that supply the inner ear. These hearing losses range from mild to profound. They often affect the person’s ability to hear certain frequencies more than others (high vs. low pitches). Even with amplification to increase the sound level a person with sensorineural hearing loss may hear distorted sounds, sometimes making the use of a hearing aid less successful.
  • A mixed hearing loss refers to a combination of conductive and sensorineural loss and means that a problem occurs in both the outer or middle ear AND the inner ear.
  • A central hearing loss results from damage or impairment to the nerves or nuclei of the central nervous system either in the pathways to the brain or in the brain itself.
How Common Is Hearing Loss and Deafness?

More than 21 million persons in the USA have some degree of hearing loss. 50% of those are over 65 years of age.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Many conditions and diseases may cause hearing loss. Hearing loss can be either congenital (present at birth) or acquired (loss occurred after birth due to illness or injury). Causes of congenital hearing loss include family history, infections during pregnancy (Rubella) or complications during pregnancy such as Rh factor, maternal diabetes or to toxicity. The most common cause of acquired hearing loss is exposure to noise (think rock concerts or music headphones). Other factors include wax buildup, fluid behind the eardrum, ear infections, childhood diseases, smoking (smokers are more likely to have hearing loss than nonsmokers) and head trauma. In any case, early detection is very important to identify effective treatment and beginning treatment promptly may delay or prevent further hearing loss.

Hearing loss should be evaluated as soon as possible to rule out potentially reversible causes such as too much ear wax or medication side effects. It’s also helpful to have baseline hearing tests done so your doctor can note any changes that occur in the future.

In some cases there is no known cure for hearing loss. Treatment is focused on improving your everyday function and the following may be helpful:

  • Hearing aids or cochlear implants
  • Telephone amplifier and other assistive devices
  • Sign language for severe hearing loss
  • Speech reading i.e., lip reading and captioned TV and films
  • Preferred seating in group settings

Remember that hearing loss can cause both physical and psychological problems. Contact your health care provider immediately if you have a sudden change in your hearing or a hearing loss associated with other symptoms such as headache, vision changes or dizziness.

Your Parish Nurse,


Cologuard® Test is Worth Risk of a False Positive

Cologuard® is a brand of test that looks at DNA in stool for evidence of cancer. Certain DNA mutations are highly suggestive of cancer. In addition, Cologuard® does an immunochemical test looking for blood. Because it combines these two techniques, Cologuard® is more sensitive than only a test looking for blood. Compared with colonoscopy, Cologuard® is about 92% sensitive in finding cancers, meaning it will miss about 8 %. With improved sensitivity comes a lack of specificity, which means you could have a false positive result. The Cologuard® can say that you have an abnormality when a colonoscopy would indicate normal. False positives are more prevalent in older individuals.  <!–split–>

There are two reasons Cologuard® is still a reasonable choice, although it isn’t as good as a colonoscopy.

  1. A normal Cologuard® test prevents a need for colonoscopy, and a false positive would lead to the same colonoscopy you would have gotten anyway (although there is probably more anxiety after a false positive test).
  1. A person with an abnormal Cologuard® and a normal colonoscopy may be at risk for an abnormality that wasn’t found on colonoscopy. A study looking at people in this category found a 25% risk of abnormality on follow-up colonoscopy if the Cologuard® was abnormal again 1-2 years later.

Ask your doctor what he(she) recommends for you. Family history can also play a role in what your doctor may recommend.

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss. It’s also called age-related macular degeneration. Your macula is part of your retina — the area in the back of your eye that turns images into signals that go to your brain. It lets you see small details clearly. When the macula starts to break down, you have trouble seeing those kinds of things. For example, you might be able to see a clock’s outline, but not make out its hands. <!–split–>

Symptoms   Early signs include blurred vision and trouble seeing color and fine details. As the disease gets worse, you lose your center vision. You may have trouble reading, driving, and making out people’s faces. You will need brighter light to do daily tasks and will find it harder to judge distances or go up and down steps. Visual hallucinations — seeing things that aren’t really there – are also a sign.

 Who Gets It?   It affects more than 10 million Americans — more people have it than cataracts and glaucoma combined. This is not true in other parts of the world. People over 60 are diagnosed with macular degeneration the most. White people are more likely to get it than people of other races, and women more than men.

 Causes   Doctors don’t know exactly why macular degeneration happens, but your family history plays a part. Your chances of having it go up if you have a parent, sibling, or child with the disease. But your lifestyle matters, too. For example, smokers are twice as likely to have it as people who don’t light up. Other things that make it more likely include being female, being exposed to ultra-violet light, and getting older.

Different Types   Most people have a “dry” type of macular degeneration. That means small white or yellow fatty deposits, called drusen, have formed in your retina and are causing it to break down. The dry kind tends to get worse very slowly. With the “wet” version, abnormal blood vessels damage your macula and change the shape of your retina. While it’s less common, the wet type is the cause of 90% of legal blindness from macular degeneration.

 Diagnosis   Your eye doctor may put drops in your eyes to dilate (widen) your pupils. This let them use a special device called an ophthalmoscope to look for fatty deposits and other signs of trouble in the back of your retina. If your doctor thinks you have the wet type, they will take a special scan of your eye that can show any problem blood vessels. Yearly eye exams can help your doctor spot early signs before you have any symptoms.

Treatment for the Dry Type   This kind of macular degeneration may best be treated with a mix of vitamins C and E, and two kinds of antioxidants. Called lutein and zeaxanthin, they’re in green leafy vegetables, eggs, and other foods, and they help filter out high-energy blue wave-lengths of light that can harm cells in your eyes. They won’t cure the disease, but they might slow it down.

 Treatment for the Wet Type   For this kind, your doctor may recommend a drug that blocks a chemical in your body that makes problem blood vessels in your retina bigger. This chemical is called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Every few weeks or months, they’ll numb your eye and give you a shot of the medication – this is anti-VEGF therapy. How often you have the shots and how long you get them depend on the specific drug and how well it works for you.

 Laser Surgery   If you have wet macular degeneration, your doctor may recommend this. They’ll point a laser at the extra blood vessels in your eye to break up them up. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is another option. A special light-sensitive drug is put into your body through a vein in your arm, then triggered with a laser to destroy problem blood vessels.

 Regain Some Vision   In advanced cases of dry macular degeneration, your doctor may suggest replacing the lens of your eye with a telescope the size of a pea. This makes images larger so the healthy parts of your retina can see them. But it’s not right for everyone, including people who have had cataract surgery.

Technology   Plenty of high-tech devices can help you get through your daily life. You can get a telescope put on your eyeglasses so you can see things far away. Computer software can turn words on a screen into speech you can hear. And a closed-circuit television magnifier lets you see something like a book or needlepoint on a TV screen.

 Lifestyle Changes   There’s no cure for macular degeneration, but you can make healthy choices to slow it down and keep your symptoms from getting worse: Get regular exercise, protect your eyes from the sun with sunglasses, and if you smoke, quit. Try to eat a healthy diet rich in leafy green vegetables and fish. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check can help, too.

 Emotional Support   Vision loss can have a big effect on your life. You have to change the way you do everyday tasks, such as cooking or reading, and you may rely more on your friends and family than you used to. You may feel depressed. Talking with a counselor or finding a local support group can help you work through these emotions.

Research   Researchers are looking into many new treatments. Drugs that lower cholesterol have shown promise in cutting back on the fatty deposits that cause dry macular degeneration. And low doses of X-ray radiation might help break up problem blood vessels in the wet type. New drugs being tested may also improve your vision with fewer side effects.

Your Parish Nurse,   Kara

Have Another Helping Of Prunes!

It’s already well known that prunes are good for your gut, but new Penn State research suggests they may be good for bone health, too.

In a research review, the researchers found that prunes can help prevent or delay bone loss in post-menopausal women, possibly due to their ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which contribute to bone loss.

“Taken together, evidence from in vitro, preclinical studies, and limited clinical studies suggest prunes may help to reduce bone loss,” Rogers said. “This may be due to altered bone turnover and by inhibiting inflammation and suppressing markers of oxidative stress.”

The review was recently published in the journal Advances in Nutrition. <!–split–>

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak or brittle that can happen to anyone at any age, but according to the researchers is most common among women over the age of 50. The condition affects more than 200 million women worldwide, causing almost nine million fractures each year.

While medications exist to treat osteoporosis, the researchers said there is a growing interest for ways to treat the condition with nutrition.

“Fruits and vegetables that are rich in bioactive compounds such as phenolic acid, flavonoids and carotenoids can potentially help protect against osteoporosis,” said Mary Jane De Souza, Professor Of Kinesiology And Physiology, “with prunes in particular gaining attention in previous research.”

According to the researchers, bones are maintained throughout adult life by processes that continually build new bone cells while removing old ones. But after the age of 40, this breaking down of old cells begins to outpace the formation of new ones. This can be caused by multiple factors including inflammation and oxidative stress, which is when free radicals and antioxidants are unbalanced in the body.

Prunes, however, have many nutritional benefits such as minerals, vitamin K, phenolic compounds and dietary fiber — all which may be able to help counter some of these effects. For example, the clinical trials found that eating 100 grams of prunes — about 10 prunes — each day for one year improved bone mineral density of bones in the forearm and lower spine and decreased signs of bone turnover. Additionally, eating 50 or 100 grams of prunes a day for six months prevented loss of total bone mineral density and decreased TRAP-5b — a marker of bone resorption — compared to women who didn’t eat prunes.

“Taken together, evidence from in vitro, preclinical studies, and limited clinical studies suggest prunes may help to reduce bone loss,” Rogers said. “This may be due to altered bone turnover and by inhibiting inflammation and suppressing markers of oxidative stress.”

The researchers said one potential mechanism for the effects is prunes triggering a change in the gut microbiome that then lowers inflammation in the colon. This may then lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and markers of oxidative damage.

Written By Katie Bohn.

Your Parish Nurse,  Kara

From The Parish Nurse . . . Starting The New Year Off Right

The DASH Diet — proved to improve health . . . It helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and is associated with lower risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney stones, and reduced risk of developing diabetes. Sound too good to be true? (Too bad it doesn’t come in the form of a pill— We’d all be taking it, right?) <!–split–>

Well, it’s the DASH diet . . . (No, it’s not about eating on the run . . .) DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is physician-recommended for people with hypertension (high blood pressure) or pre-hypertension. The diet eating plan has been proved to lower blood pressure in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. In addition to being a low salt (low sodium) plan, the DASH diet provides additional benefits to reduce blood pressure. It is based on an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy, with whole grains. It’s high in fiber, low to moderate in fat, and rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. A healthy eating plan designed for the whole family, the DASH diet has been endorsed by:

  • National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health)
  • American Heart Association
  • 2010 Dietary Guidelines for American
  • American Medical Association guidelines for treatment of high blood pressure
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food pyramid

What’s The Evidence?

There are numerous studies—well designed, published in reputable medical journals—that attest to the value of eating the DASH diet! Just to cite a few . . . In November 2009 the American Journal of Cardiology reported a study of 38,987 men, over a seven-year period, ages 45-79 years, who experienced a 22% lower development of heart failure while eating the DASH diet. In May 2009, the Archives of Internal Medicine reported a 7-year study of 36,000 women who also experienced less likelihood of heart failure. October, 2009 the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reported a 45% reduction in risk of kidney stones in men and 52% reduction in women who ate the DASH diet. (nearly 242,000 subjects participated in this study!) The April 2008 Journal of Pediatrics reported that teens following the DASH diet were able to lower their blood pressure as well as improve their nutrition by consuming more fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and nuts. Additional studies have shown adherence to the DASH diet and the highly compatible Mediterranean diet reduces risk of colorectal cancer.

Though the DASH diet is in itself not intended as a weight-loss regimen, many people who adhere to this diet also shed unwanted pounds. Folks who combine the DASH diet with an exercise program showed more weight loss and more reduction in their high blood pressure than those who used only the diet or

Do THE Mediterranean DASH!

Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets are family friendly, and can even be applied at restaurants and fast food places . . .

The plan includes:

TYPE OF FOOD                                 1500 CAL. DIET    2000 CAL. DIET

Grains and grain products              6 servings                7-8 servings                   (include at least 3 whole grain foods per day)                                               Fruits                                                          4 servings                 4-5 servings     Vegetables (rinse if canned)         4 servings                 4-5 servings        Low or non-fat dairy foods            1-2 servings             2-3 servings                (check sodium content of cheeses!)                                                                      Lean meats, fish, poultry                  1-1/2 servings       2 servings                       (2-3 oz. each)  (fresh is better than canned or cured)                          Nuts, seeds, legumes                          3 serving/week    4-5 serving/ week       (raw or dry-roasted, no added salt)                                                      Healthy fats, and sweets                  1-2 servings           3 or less servings

Make a habit of reading labels carefully. Look for “no added salt” or reduced salt products (limit yourself to 1,500-2,000 milligrams of sodium per day) . . . Better yet, just use fresh (vs. processed) foods, and don’t add salt!

Back To Basics . . .

That means, pay close attention to serving sizes . . . Since we know most of us need to eat more fruits and veggies, let’s start there:

A FRUIT SERVING:   *1 small piece, or 1 cup berries *one banana *two plums *one small apple *one small peach *six strawberries *15 cherries or grapes *two rings of canned pineapple *4 ounces of 100% fruit juice

A VEGETABLE SERVING:   *1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked *five broccoli florets *3/4 cup tomato juice *1/2 cup spinach *one cup salad greens (lettuce, spinach, etc.) *ten baby carrots *1/2 cup baked sweet potato *1/2 cup green beans

A SERVING OF GRAINS:   *1 slice of bread *1/4 of a bagel *3/4 c. dried cereal *1/2 c. starchy vegetable like pinto beans, peas, corn *1/3 c. cooked pasta or rice *1/2 c. mashed potatoes * 1 6” corn tortilla

A SERVING OF PROTEIN:   *2-3 oz. lean meat  * 1 egg  *1/4 c. cottage cheese *1 Tbsp. peanut butter *2-3 oz. skinless poultry, cooked fish, lean beef or pork *2-3 oz dried beans (black, pinto, fat-free refried)  *1/2 cup tofu

A FAT SERVING: 1 tsp. butter or oil:  *1 Tbsp. light mayo  *1 tsp olive or canola oil *2 Tbsp avocado *1 tsp regular mayo * 1 tsp butter or margarine * 1 Tbsp salad dressing

Want some DASH recipes to get started? Go to

— Your Parish Nurse, Kara

6 Simple Self-Care Tips

Acknowledge Yourself

The first step: Remember that it isn’t selfish to look after yourself. It is critical for your happiness and well-being. You have limits, and they are crucial to help you honor your health. You have needs, and deserve affection, rest, sustenance, and grace—just like everyone else. And you have dreams, and are worthy of the time it takes to pursue what makes your heart come alive. <!–split–>

Gift Yourself

When is the last time you did this? Each week, choose something that will add to your life:

  • A colorful water bottle to encourage proper hydration.
  • A beautiful new journal to record your dreams.
  • An extra hour of sleep, or exercise, or creative expression.
  • If nothing else, give yourself a moment: We all need a moment of grace, forgiveness, or acceptance every now and then.

Restore Yourself

Think back to what made you feel happy as a child. Was it the smell of a library book? Or listening to the crickets at night? Maybe it was strumming a guitar, or walking barefoot in the grass. Try to recreate those experiences of simple pleasure.

Speak Up For Yourself

Choose a trusted soul and voice the unspeakable:

  • “I need help.”
  • “I am afraid.”
  • “I haven’t felt like myself in awhile.”

There is something about voicing the burden that makes it lighter. Give the people close to you a chance to support you.

Take The Pressure Off Yourself

What are you telling yourself about your parenting skills? What are you telling yourself about your appearance? What are you telling yourself about your long to-do list?

Now try setting more realistic expectations. Lower the bar; let something go. Ban the word “should” from your vocabulary today. And when you lay down in bed tonight, ask yourself, “Did I show up?” If the answer is yes, that is enough. It’s more than enough.

Notice The Good In Yourself

Take a moment to recognize any tough obstacles you’ve overcome, or lessons you’ve learned—and think about how far you’ve come. Then try to see yourself through the eyes of those who love you. They don’t see imperfections, failings, and mistakes. They see love, never-failing love. Try to see it too.

Take care of yourself and remember that God has your back! Go to Him in everything!

Your parish nurse,   Kara