FDA moves against trans fats

It’s long been known that partially hydrogenated oils (artificial trans fats that are found in many foods such as crackers, cookies and frozen pizza) raise “bad” cholesterol and are linked to heart disease. Manufacturers like using trans fats because they improve the texture of food and extend shelf life. The Centers for Disease Control says consumption of partially hydrogenated oils has decreased in recent years as consumers have become more and aware of the dangers of these fats, but that eliminating them completely from the American diet could mean 10,000 to 20,000 fewer heart attacks each year and up to 7,000 resulting deaths. The Food and Drug Administration recently put the wheels in motion to ban the use of trans fats. Don’t look for this happen anytime soon, however. Government agencies tend to move with glacial speed, and the plan is to allow food manufacturers to gradually phase out the use of artificial trans fats. In the meantime, read food labels and avoid trans fats as much as possible.

Blood drives set

Hospital blood bank supplies often run low during the busy holiday season. You can help by donating blood this month at one of the following drives offered by United Blood Services.

Thursday, Dec. 26, noon to 5 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 515 Park St., Cortez

Friday, Dec. 27, 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Cortez Fire Protection District, 30 N. Ash St.

For more information about donating blood, visit unitedbloodservices.org or redcrossblood.org. To register to give blood at one of these events go to bloodhero.com.

How much water do you need?

We’ve all heard the eight-glasses-a-day rule when it comes to staying properly hydrated, but it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. The Institute of Medicine (www.iom.edu) recommends 125 ounces of fluids each day for men and 91 ounces for women. But here’s the catch: All of that fluid doesn’t have to be water. Juice, milk, tea, coffee, and even soda and beer count, but go easy on those last two. Many fruits and vegetables contain high percentages of water including strawberries (92%), cantaloupe (90%) cucumbers (96%), and tomatoes (94%). Go easy with fruit juices as many have a high sugar content – eat the fruit and you get fluids and fiber.

Drink water before, during and after exercise, have a glass with each meal, and sip it during the day. If your urine is medium to dark yellow, reach for that glass of water more frequently. If it’s nearly clear or light yellow, you’re probably in pretty good shape. When you consume the right amount of fluid, it benefits your circulation, kidneys and skin.

MRSA rates in hospitals drop by more than half

The Centers for Disease Control recently announced that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) rates in U.S. hospitals have dropped by more than half since 2005. MRSA, a serious staph infection, is considered a “superbug” because it does not respond to treatment with most antibiotics. This significant drop in MRSA rates is good news and is the result of diligent infection control policies on the part of hospital staff, physicians being more discerning about prescribing antibiotics (overuse helps superbugs thrive), and patients taking charge of their own health by practicing good hygiene such as hand washing.

Get to sleep, stay asleep

Tossing and turning because you can’t get to sleep – or get back to sleep when you wake up wide-eyed at 1 a.m. – is not only frustrating, but it can also be bad for your health and well-being. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about ruling out medical conditions such as sleep apnea, insomnia, periodic leg movements, narcolepsy, and other sleep disorders. If you check out OK medically and still find sleep elusive, try these sleep hygiene tips:

Invest in a good quality mattress and pillows.

Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool, well-ventilated room.

Keep pets out of the bedroom while you sleep.

Try to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day.

If you must nap during the day, sleep no more than 45 minutes.

Eat your final meal four hours before bedtime and avoid heavy, spicy foods. A light snack before bedtime is fine.

Avoid caffeine in afternoons and evenings.

Limit alcohol consumption, especially within four hours of bedtime.

Southwest Health Notes Health News Round Up is a public service feature provided by Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez. The information provided herein is not intended as patient-specific medical advice or as a substitute for consultation with your personal health-care provider.