LiveWell®

Wellness and prevention information from the experts at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing


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How good and bad gut bacteria can affect your health

Greg Plotnikoff, MD, MTS, FACP

Greg Plotnikoff, MD, MTS, FACP

The Star Tribune this summer explored the topic of intestinal bacteria and its relationship to health. The newspaper ran an article featuring Greg Plotnikoff, MD, a physician at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing and author of “Trust Your Gut,” a book about how to deal with digestive problems.

Plotnikoff explained that our stomach bacteria can help or hurt us, depending on how we treat them. “The gut is much more of a garden than a gutter,” he said. “Our mission is to be good gardeners.”

Read the full Star Tribune article, “Scientists discover more about the battle in your belly.”

Gregory A. Plotnikoff, MD, MTS, FACP, is a board certified internist and pediatrician at the Penny George Institute. He is co-author of the book “Trust Your Gut,” which focuses on the science of gut-brain interactions.


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Tips for shopping at the Farmers Market

Garlic

Farmer’s market tip: Talk with the people who grow the food for ideas on preparing an item.

This article ran in the summer issue of the LiveWell® Newsletter of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing.

When Carolyn Denton goes to the Farmers Market, her plan is to not have a plan.

“I like to go and explore,” said Denton, who is a licensed nutritionist at the Penny George InstituteAbbott Northwestern Hospital. “We can take our cues on what we should be eating from what nature provides at each week’s market.”

“The foods we see in early spring, like salad greens, radishes, dandelion root and nettle are cleansing, and act as natural detoxifiers. Later in the summer, we have more cool and wet foods, like melon.”

Denton also enjoys the social atmosphere of the Farmers Market. “I like to talk to the people who grow the food. They will often have ideas on how to prepare an item and are happy to talk about their products.”

One of Denton’s favorite recipes using Farmers Market produce is pesto (see recipe below). While traditionally made with basil, it can also be made with almost any herb, as well as with spinach or other greens. It can be used with pasta, fish or chicken, spread on pizza crust, used as a vegetable dip or mixed with mayonnaise as a sandwich spread.

For more ideas on cooking with Farmers Market produce:

Pesto Recipe

From Spoonriver Cookbook by Brenda Langton and Margaret Stuart

2 cups slightly packed basil (or substitute arugula, spinach or parsley)
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts (or pistachios, sunflower seeds, almonds)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

To make pesto: Place the basil, garlic, pine nuts, oil and salt in blender or food processor.

Process until the pesto is smooth. Stir in the cheese.

© University of Minnesota Press
Reprinted with permission.

The Penny George Institute will be at Mill City Farmers Market in downtown Minneapolis Saturday, Aug. 23. Stop by our booth and meet our practitioners.

Carolyn Denton, MA, LN, sees patients at the Penny George Institute – Abbott Northwestern Hospital. For appointments, call 612-863-3333.

 

 


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Curious about holistic health? Start here.

The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing - WestHealth in Plymouth is under construction, set to open in August 2014

The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing – WestHealth in Plymouth, Minn. is under construction.

Come and tour the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing’s new integrative health clinic set to open at Abbott Northwestern – WestHealth in Plymouth, Minn. this August.

The new clinic will host an open house on Thursday, Aug. 7, from 3-6 p.m. Come and learn how integrative medicine consultations, acupuncture, Resilience Training, fitness consultations, and nutrition can help you become the healthiest version of yourself.

The new clinic’s physician, advanced practice nurse, acupuncturists, health coach, nutritionist and other experts will be on hand to answer your questions.

All are welcome, and no registration is required. Refreshments will be provided.


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The evolving field of holistic health – from alternative medicine to integrative health

By Zena Kocher, LAc, MaOM, licensed acupuncturist, Penny George™ Institute for Health and Healing

At the end of my senior year of high school, our yearbook held predictions about each graduate’s future. It was predicted that I would quit my position as editor and chief of the New York Times to become a Zen Buddhist monk.

Even though this was one of the more absurd prophecies, this prediction actually hinted at my career path. Indeed, I did leave behind my dream of becoming a journalist to become a Chinese Medicine and integrative health provider at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

I think a Zen Buddhist monk is the closest comparison to an acupuncturist that the yearbook committee could find. In high school, none of us had heard of acupuncture, and the field of integrative health – sometimes called holistic health – did not even exist. We didn’t yet have the language to describe my future profession.

Holistic health – focused on the body, mind and spirit – has evolved over the last thirty years from alternative medicine to complementary medicine to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to integrative medicine, and most recently to integrative health.

Though 50 million people use integrative health services in one form or another – be it acupuncture or meditation or integrative nutrition counseling – it is still relatively uncommon for conventional health care organizations to adopt integrative health services and programs.

The main tenets of integrative health have become established with holistic physicians and nursing programs around the nation. CAM providers have teamed up in clinics and hospitals to offer integrative health services.

I work for Allina Health’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, the largest integrative health program within a health system in the nation. We have been tasked with expanding our program across the hospitals of Allina Health. This means more hospitalized patients will have access to services like guided imagery, aromatherapy and massage therapy to help support their recovery, manage pain, deal with anxiety and sleep better.

Many health care systems look to the Penny George Institute for a better understanding of how to develop successful integrative health programs and improve health care overall. Fortunately, the Penny George Institute has a research team to collect and analyze data to help us better understand how and when integrative health therapies help patients the most.

Still, the language and science about what we do is still in the making. A deep understanding of how and why some integrative therapies work has not yet been revealed.

As clinicians, we are at the center of this evolving field. We have a crucial and unique perspective. What we see, experience, and practice helps define integrative health. It’s an exciting place to be.

In future blog entries, I plan to put my journalism skills to work by interviewing my colleagues about our work. I hope this collection of upcoming interviews will provide insights into integrative health care.

Zena Kocher, LAc, MaOM, is a licensed acupuncturist with Allina Health’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. She provides integrative health services to hospitalized patients at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.


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Make your summer count: A seasonal approach to boosting health and wellness

SummerHealthPhoto

While we’re eager to return to higher levels of activity as summer begins, Debra Bell, MD, advises caution. “Don’t make that first bike ride a 30-mile trip. Be mindful to stretch and pace yourself,” she said.

This article will run in the summer issue of the LiveWell® Newsletter of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

According to Debra Bell, MD, an integrative medicine doctor at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, taking note of seasonal changes and adjusting your habits accordingly is a powerful and practical way to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit.

It can begin with the earliest days of spring when you notice that it is still light out at 6 p.m. “More daylight often helps our mood, so we should take advantage of that,” said Bell. Increase your exposure to daylight by going for an evening walk or sleeping with the curtains partially open.

Warmer weather can serve as inspiration to spend less time in your car. Instead of automatically driving wherever you need to go, walk or ride your bike for errands or outings.

Outdoor chores like yard work and gardening can help you tune in to the season while keeping you active. “Summer is a time of new life and growth. Finding ways to be engaged in the natural world can be satisfying and can serve as a metaphor for one’s own sense of growth and development,” said Bell.

Another important part of Bell’s “summer wellness tool kit” is fresh, local produce. “We have much more to choose from in the summer, and the nutrients in foods like spring greens are great for the immune system, anti-aging and digestion.”

“Some people also like to think in terms of spring cleaning – focusing on a cleansing or purifying diet under the guidance of a professional,” said Bell. Similarly, integrative practices like acupuncture and qigong can provide a seasonal tune-up, helping the body shift from the dormancy of winter to a more active, energized state.

And while many of us are eager to return to higher levels of activity as summer begins, Bell advises caution. “It’s very easy to overdo it. Don’t make that first bike ride a 30-mile trip. Be mindful to stretch and pace yourself. The muscles you used all winter shoveling snow or running on the treadmill aren’t the same as when you garden or ride your bike.”

Bell also noted that seasonal changes in the natural world include cold viruses. “When the weather changes, the viruses that are circulating also change,” she said. She encourages her patients to take zinc and vitamin C at the first sign of a summer cold.

Debra Bell, MD, sees patients at the Penny George Institute – Abbott Northwestern. For appointments, call 612-863-3333. See her profile.


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Health benefits of turmeric

Tumeric.455656335By Mary Beshara, MSN, APRN

If you haven’t already heard about the wonderful health properties of turmeric― the main spice in curry―let me educate you.

Here are results from research showing turmeric’s possible health benefits:

  • The brain – Researchers are exploring the link between turmeric and its positive effects on certain brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Circulation –  A 2007 study showed that curcumin, the yellow pigment that is the active compound in turmeric, may aid in reducing levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or “bad cholesterol.”
  • Inflammation Researchers at the University of Arizona have found evidence to support turmeric’s reputation as an anti-inflammatory agent for joint inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Cancer – A recent study showed turmeric to be effective in slowing the growth of breast cancer cells in mice and in delaying the progression of the disease into the lungs. The study is being conducted at the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
  • The gut – Turmeric may help people with the digestive disease ulcerative colitis stay in remission, according to a 2006 study.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I get very excited to see that simple food choices can make a big impact on healthy living. It can be a challenge, though, to get turmeric into your diet. I was raised on a lot of wonderful foods and spices, but turmeric wasn’t one of them. It can be tricky if you are not used to this flavor.

I want to share with you two recipes that are easy ones for getting some turmeric in your diet. They are from the Web site of Arjan Khalsa, a chiropractor.

The first of the recipes is for Turmeric Paste. Once you have this made, you can store it in the refrigerator in a glass container for up to three weeks. You can use it by the teaspoon in soups, yogurt, or eggs ― anything you choose. Experimentation can be your guide. But don’t be surprised if you walk away with a yellow-colored tongue. It’s perfectly harmless and goes away quickly.

The second of the recipes is for golden milk. It is amazingly calming. You can drink it right before bedtime to help with falling asleep. I also enjoy it in the morning while I drive to work. It calms me down, and I like knowing that it is reducing inflammation in my body.

We’re just starting to understand how turmeric can benefit our health.

I do recommend that if you are going to integrate turmeric or curcumin supplements into your diet, please check with your physician or health care professional first. And always consult with them before making any significant changes in your diet or lifestyle.

Mary Beshara is a board certified Clinical Nurse Specialist in adult health and pain management who sees patients at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing – Abbott Northwestern Outpatient Clinic. She integrates into her practice complementary therapies such as relaxation techniques, integrative imagery, aromatherapyreflexologyhealing touch and breath work.

 

 

 

 


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How can measuring quality of life lead to better health?

CoupleOnBikesBy Jeffery Dusek, director of research, Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

In medicine, we’re very focused on measurements – blood pressure, weight, cholesterol levels – values that are easily understood by the medical community. One thing that we have not focused on as much is how quality of life affects health.

A person’s quality of life is influenced by a variety of factors including their physical, mental, and social well-being. Numerous studies have shown that low quality of life is related to increased rates of illness, chronic disease and death.

In June 2012, a team at Allina Health began implementing a tool called the PROMIS-10 questionnaire developed by the National Institutes of Health to assess quality of life in Piper Breast Center patients. Since then, this initiative has expanded across other Allina Health patient groups – touching 1,500 patients.

Our goal is to engage patients and help them achieve their health objectives. Questionnaires like PROMIS-10 have been found to:

  • improve patient satisfaction and communication between patients and their health care providers
  • support efficient patient visits, guiding visits without lengthening overall visit time.

Allina Health is in good company as our colleagues at major health systems such as Partners HealthCare (Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital) and Cleveland Clinic are also using PROMIS-10 to measure patients’ quality of life.

Specifically within Allina Health’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, clinicians use this questionnaire as part of every visit at the outpatient clinic. I asked Courntey Baechler, MD, at the Penny George Institute about using the tool with her patients. She said, “It really helps me understand how they gauge their own quality of life. It’s easy as a physician to quickly tie medical numbers to a patient and arbitrarily rate their quality of life. With the questionnaire, I can quickly see how the patient rates their own indicators of health. This is yet one more way to hear the patient’s voice.”

Other areas of Allina Health that are using the questionnaire include the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute®, the cardiac rehabilitation program, Healthy Communities Partnership, and others.

Knowing that quality of life is important to health, you can take some simple steps to improve yours:

  • Take time to focus on what brings you joy.
  • Talk to your clinician about what’s most important in your quality of life. Perhaps being able to play with your kids or grandkids in the park is what brings you joy each week.
  • Ensure that during each visit with your clinician, there is time to concentrate on aspects of your health that are affecting your quality of life. An example would be poor sleep hindering your ability to be active.
  • Take time to speak to family or friends about what affects your quality of life. This could be physical and emotional pain, stress, being rushed, or having limited time to sit and connect with them.

Check out our previous blogs for information on how to improve stress management, sleep, nutrition, social connection, spiritual connection, and physical activity. All are key to improving quality of life.

Jeffrey Dusek, PhD, is the director of research for the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. Prior to that he was with Harvard Medical System at Harvard Medical School as the director of Behavioral Sciences Research of the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine of Massachusetts General Hospital.