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Health Capsules: Nov. 22

Local residents honored with annual Healthy Woman Award

St. Luke’s Hospital recently honored four St. Louis area women with its 2017 Healthy Woman Award, and two of this year’s recipients both live and work in West County. Now in its 12th year, the award celebrates women who not only take steps to improve their own health, but who also inspire better health and improve the quality of life in their communities.


Dr. Kelley Humphries, of Ellisville, is a chiropractic physician and assistant director of Logan University’s Human Performance Center. As a former college athlete, Humphries always has made health and wellness a top priority in her life and career. She currently leads Logan’s clinic at Paraquad, where she promotes health and wellness for individuals with disabilities. She also co-founded the university’s Women’s Leadership Council. Her many community activities include serving as the strength and conditioning coach for the women’s basketball program at Harris-Stowe State University, participating on the board of Young Variety of St. Louis and serving as an executive council member for Wings of Hope Young Ambassadors.


Jessica Dederer, of Wildwood, has made protecting the well-being of others her career. She always has worked in the nonprofit sector, and now serves as chief development officer of FamilyForward, the newly merged entity of the Children’s Home Society of Missouri and Family Resource Center, which is committed to helping vulnerable children and their families through comprehensive therapeutic and educational services. Outside of work, Dederer volunteers at her children’s schools, serves on the parish council and development committee of her church, volunteers with local charities and serves as a mentor through the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network St. Louis.

Tips for avoiding the “holiday blues”

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … except when it isn’t. For many people, the holidays are not a time of joyful family gatherings, parties and happy traditions, but rather a time of loneliness, anxiety and reflection on past failures or sad events.

According to the National Mental Health Association, many factors can cause the “holiday blues:” stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, financial constraints or the inability to be with one’s family and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions and house guests also contribute to feelings of tension. Even people who do not become depressed may develop other stress responses, such as excessive drinking, overeating and trouble sleeping. The NMHA offers several suggestions for avoiding these pitfalls and keeping the holiday season as merry as possible:

• Keep expectations for the season manageable; try to set realistic goals and pace yourself. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, make a list and prioritize the important activities.

• Leave the events of years past behind and look toward the future. Try to avoid comparing this holiday season with the “good old days;” embrace change, remembering that each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way.

• Do something for someone else. Volunteering time to help others is a great way to improve your own outlook.

• Enjoy activities that are free, such as driving around to look at holiday decorations, going window shopping without buying or making a snowman with your children.

• Be mindful that excessive drinking only will increase any existing feelings of depression.

• Try something new – celebrate the holidays in a totally new way or establish a new tradition.

• Spend time with those you truly care about, rather than rushing from party to party.  If that includes someone you have not heard from for awhile, make the first move and reach out to that person.

• Save time to relax and recharge. Let others share the responsibility for activities.

‘Mindless’ snacking leads to overeating

Thinking of food as a snack rather than a meal – and eating standing up instead of seated at a table – both lead to overeating, according to a new study recently published in the journal Appetite.

Researchers from the University of Surrey in the U.K. reached those conclusions by conducting a unique experiment. They presented 80 participants with a pasta dish, which some were told was a snack and others a meal. The “snacks” were served in plastic containers with plastic forks, and eaten either seated or standing up. The “meals” were presented on ceramic plates with metal forks, and were all eaten seated at a table. After they were finished eating, the participants were asked to take part in an additional taste test of several snack foods, which included animal crackers, cheese snacks and M&Ms.

The researchers found that those who had eaten the pasta labeled as a snack ate more at the taste test than when it had been labeled as a meal. They also found that those who ate their snack standing up consumed a full 50 percent more of the taste test foods overall, and 100 percent more M&Ms, than did those who had eaten the pasta while sitting at a table. They attributed this result to a combination of factors, and theorized that when snacking, people are generally distracted and may not be fully conscious of how much they are eating.  Jane Ogden, a professor of health psychology at the university, explained, “With our lives getting busier, increasing numbers of people are eating on the go and consuming foods that are labeled as ‘snacks’ to sustain them. What we have found is that those who are consuming snacks are more likely to overeat as they may not realize or even remember what they have eaten.”

‘Electric’ bandages could offer improved wound healing

What if a simple bandage could prevent infections, help heal already infected wounds and combat antibiotic resistance? A research team at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center has developed such a bandage, which uses weak electric fields to halt bacterial infection and help burn wounds to heal. The team recently completed a successful study using the bandages on burn wounds in pigs, which was published in the journal Annals of Surgery.

The technology works by disrupting bacterial biofilms, a major wound complication. Biofilms form when bacteria adhere to a wound’s wet surface and begin to grow and proliferate, relying on electrostatic interactions to remain “stuck” to those surfaces. Antibiotic-resistant biofilm infections currently are estimated to account for at least 75 percent of bacterial infections in the United States.

The bandages, called wireless electroceutical dressings [WEDs] contain silver and zinc printed on fabric. When moistened, WEDs generate a weak electric field without any external power supply, and can be used like any other disposable dressing.

“Drug resistance in bacteria is a major threat, and this is the first preclinical, long-term porcine study to recognize the potential of ‘electroceuticals’ as an effective technology to combat wound biofilm infection,” said Dr. Chandan Sen, director of Ohio State’s Center for Regenerative Medicine & Cell Based Therapies.

Ohio State researchers currently are partnering with the burn care team at the U.S. Department of Defense, and will start a clinical trial prior to year’s end testing the WED technology on burn wounds in humans, Sen said.

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