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Health Bulletin
A Publication of the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority Back
April 2011
Update: Allergy Season is Here!

Pollen is the biggest spring allergy trigger. When someone who is allergic breathes in pollen grains, the immune system goes into overdrive to protect the body.

Pollen is a foreign invader, which automatically releases antibodies to identify and attack viruses, bacteria and other illness-causing organisms. The antibodies attack the allergens, which releases chemicals called "histamines" into the bloodstream. Histamines trigger runny noses, itchy eyes and other allergy symptoms.
Here are some common spring allergy offenders:
Trees: alder, ash, aspen, beech, box elder, cedar, cottonwood, cypress, elm, hickory, juniper, maple, mulberry, oak, olive, palm, pine, poplar, sycamore and willow.
Grasses and Weeds: bermuda, fescue, johnson, june, orchard, perennial rye, redtop, saltgrass, sweet vernal and timothy.
Allergy symptoms tend to be particularly common on breezy days when the wind picks up pollen and carries it through the air. Rainy days, on the other hand, cause a drop in the pollen counts because the rain washes away the allergens.
Symptoms of spring allergies include:
  • Coughing
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
·          Airborne allergens also can trigger asthma, a condition that causes the airways to narrow, making breathing difficult. This can lead to coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
 
For more information on allergies, please visit the WebMd website and read the "Spring Allergies" article.
 
Fitness: The Great Workout Plan

Did you miss your daily workout? Don’t worry — you can still fit something in. While watching one of your favorite television shows, you can do a few strength training moves during the commercial breaks, such as squats, lunges or crunches. Encourage yourself by setting small, achievable goals and following through on them.

Lift weights, lift your spirits! Studies show that even a little bit of exercise can affect your mood. Try a bicep curl. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, place your arms at your side and bend your arm slowly lifting the weight toward your face, then return your arm to your side slowly. Repeat the same action for the other side. Complete 10-12 reps with each arm. The next time you have a bit of a tough day, reach for your free weights instead of a bag of chips!
 
Did you call your buddy today? Working out with a buddy can greatly increase your chances of sticking with a new fitness routine. Be sure to pick a good partner, someone you can count on. Meet your workout buddy for a morning jog, lunch-time power walk, or even a Pilates or yoga class. Have fun getting fit with a friend, and help each other reach your fitness goals.

Source: Fitness Tips: http://azurahalla.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/fitness-tips/

Nutrition: Guilt-Free Sundaes

Here's a sweet treat for you from renowned nutritionist, Dr. Ann Kulze (who will speak at this year's Health at Work Conference). Feel free to indulge in a delicious, non-guilty pleasure, a healthy chocolate sundae. Here's a simple recipe: 

  • 2 scoops of "Purely Decadent" brand coconut milk ice cream (vanilla bean or coconut flavor),
  • Smother with 2 ounces of melted 72% cacao, or higher, dark chocolate
  • Top with 2 tbs raw or toasted walnuts.
"Purely Decadent brand of coconut milk ice creams are dramatically lower in calories, fat and sugar compared to other premium ice creams, and taste great!", says Dr. Kulze. In addition, the saturated fats in coconut milk tend to boost levels of good (HDL) cholesterol."
 
Menopause - Don't Sweat It!

New research suggests that women who suffer from hot flashes and night sweats may be at lower risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and death. Medical information obtained from 60,000 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study were followed for 10 years to determine the relationship between menopause symptoms and cardiovascular events. They were grouped into four categories: women who had hot flashes and night sweats: (1) at the onset of menopause: (2) later in menopause (3): during both time periods; and (4) not at all. The study showed that women who had symptoms when they began menopause had fewer cardiovascular events than those who experienced hot flashes later during menopause or not at all.

It is reassuring for women who have these symptoms that they do not seem to show the increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, more research needs to be conducted to understand the mechanisms behind the association with the disease.
 
For a complete review of this article, please click here.
 
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Benefits administrators and others chosen by your employer, who may assist with insurance enrollment and adjustments, retirement or termination and related activities, are not agents of the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority and are not authorized to bind the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority.

This publication contains information about insurance benefits. Complete descriptions of the health and dental plans are contained in the Plan of Benefits documents. Their terms and conditions govern all health benefits offered by the state. If you would like to review these documents, contact your benefits administrator or the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority.