• Recipe: Homemade

    Pumpkin Spice Latte

    Fall is finally here and we are officially excited about EVERYTHING pumpkin! Instead of buying the famous coffeehouse drink, skip out on the saturated fat, carbohydrates, and sugars by crafting your own version of the pumpkin spice latte in the kitchen. You may be used to waiting in a long line for this tasty treat, so you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find you can whip up this recipe in half the time. Better yet, this version uses real pumpkin, not syrup! Pumpkin is low in fat and calories, and also packs a healthy dose of antioxidants, vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as iron. Pumpkin is also a great dietary source of fiber.

    So, save yourself some calories, money, and time spent in line by adopting this version of a fall favorite!

    Pumpkin Spiced Latte

    Ingredients

    2 cups skim milk

    2 tablespoons canned pumpkin

    2 tablespoons Stevia

    2 tablespoons vanilla extract

    1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

    1/2 cup hot brewed coffee

    Whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice and ground nutmeg, optional

    Directions

    Combine milk, sugar, and pumpkin in a small pan over medium heat until steaming.

    Remove heat, stir in pumpkin pie spice and vanilla

    Transfer the mixture to a blender. Process for 15 seconds or until foamy

    Pour into two mugs, add ¼ cup coffee

    Top with whipped cream and a pinch of pumpkin spice

    Nutritional Facts

    1-1/4 cups (calculated without whipped cream) equals 307 calories, 0 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 33 mg cholesterol, 346 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 22 g protein

    Do you have any favorite healthy fall recipes you enjoy with seasonal fruits and vegetables? Share them with us in the comments!

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  • Infographic:

    Colors of the Eye

    From the famous lines of beloved songs to the stories of ancient legends, eye color has captivated audiences throughout time. The origins and genetic makeup associated with eye color makes the color of one’s eye more complex than a simple collection of aesthetic traits, however. Genes and pigment concentrations are two important factors in determining eye color. Some eye colors are more rare than others and can be linked to genetics or family origins and heritage.

    Hannah Scanga, MS, a genetic counselor at the UPMC Eye Center, explains, “The two primary genes that influence the color of the eye, primarily brown and blue eyes, are OCA2 and HERC2. Additional genes influence other eye colors and specific variations, including green or hazel eyes and gold rings.” The scale of eye color from most to least common is brown, blue, hazel, green, and silver.

    According to Ellen Mitchell, MD, “Concentrations of the pigment melanin in the iris of the eye is the primary determinant of eye color. Higher amounts of melanin lead to darker colors while lower amounts result in lighter eye colors.” Dr. Mitchell continues, “The pigment lipochrome also plays a role in determining eye color, specifically green eyes.”

    Eye color can also change due to factors like pupil size, emotions, and age. However, if these changes are drastic or only occur in one eye this may indicate a medical condition and you should discuss symptoms with a doctor.Eye Color Infographic

    Are you still curious about some of the fascinating facts behind blue (green, or brown) eyes? Visit the UPMC Eye Center website to learn more about the latest breakthroughs in the field of optometry and the different eye conditions we treat. Call 1-800-446-3797 to schedule an appointment today.

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  • 5 Ramen Noodle

    “Health Hacks”

    It’s that time of year again. The time when college students flock back to campus, ready to ace their tests, reunite with friends, and feast on the infamously unhealthy Ramen Noodles. Unfortunately, the beloved college-food was the subject of a recent health study, which linked it to series health issues. Even more disheartening? These issues were gender specific. Women who ate the noodles at least twice per week saw a 68 percent increase in their risk of cardiometabolic syndrome, while men saw no notable difference in their risk. But with all-nighters and deadlines looming, it’s not easy to toss the prepackaged delicacy into the trash for good. So what’s a busy college kid to do?

    Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, commented on the story and assured students that it doesn’t take much effort to make Ramen healthier. So next time late-night hunger strikes, try these simple steps to save your wallet and your health:

    Ramen Graphic

    1. Ditch the Seasoning

    The sky-high sodium content is the biggest health issue, so try adding flavor another way! Use water or broth and flavor it with garlic, ginger, herbs, chili, or sesame oil.

    2. Add Veggies

    If you live on campus, grab some vegetables from the salad bar to use in your Ramen. Otherwise, break out the frozen veggies to give your noodles an extra kick of nutrients!

    3. Pack in the Protein

    Chicken, shrimp, tuna, tofu, grilled salmon, eggs…the list goes on! Any protein you choose will make your Ramen healthier and keep you feeling full longer than Ramen alone.

    4. Use your Leftovers

    Have extra food from last night’s dinner? Combine it with ramen noodles (sans seasoning) for a delicious reworking that makes you forget you’re eating leftovers.

    5. Go Dry

    Cook the noodles, drain, and lightly toss in your favorite dressing or sauce! Think low-sodium soy sauce, Italian dressing, vinaigrette, or teriyaki sauce.

    6. Get Creative

    There are dozens (if not hundreds) of Ramen recipes for you to try. There are even Ramen Noodle cookbooks! So don’t settle for boring noodles, spice it up with a creative recipe.

    Eating habits tend to change when entering college mode, as campus life warrants an active and hectic lifestyle. Quick, convenient and unhealthy meals often take center stage, landing healthy eating and cooking in the bleachers. When you’re looking to get creative with regular old Ramen, check out some of our health hacks. Think of it as teaching an old dog new tricks, but this time you’re the dog and the tricks are disguised as noodles. Bring your dorm room dining to a new level while also becoming more conscious of the ingredients your putting in your body!

    How do you make your Ramen healthier? Share your ideas below!

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  • 7 Health Benefits of

    Lemon Juice

    There’s more to lemons than meets the eye. This fruit may pair well with some of your favorite dishes, but it also offers incredible health benefits. Lemons are packed with nutrients, promote weight loss, and have even been linked to kidney stone prevention and cancer treatment! This tangy fruit has also been known to possibly help halt bad breath and get rid of dandruff when applied to the scalp. In addition to its properties as a beauty treatment and health aid, there are a number of uses for lemons. Whether you enjoy the fruit alone or with your morning tea, here are just a few reasons to embrace lemons and their juice:

    1. Relieves a sore throat: Warm water mixed with honey and lemon can soothe a sore throat during cold season.
    2. Cancer-fighting benefits: Studies have shown lemons may have anticancer benefits.
    3. Prevents kidney stones: Lemon juice is shown to help prevent kidney stones by raising the urine’s citrate levels.
    4. Aid in digestion: Lemon promotes the production of digestive enzymes in the liver, which help eliminate waste from your body.
    5. High in essential nutrients: Lemons are high in many vitamins like Vitamin C (promotes immunity and battles infection), calcium (important for muscle function, intracellular signaling, and hormonal secretion), potassium (helps muscles and nerves work properly), and folate (Fights against spinal birth defects and helps red blood cell formation).
    6. Promotes weight loss: The pectin in lemons and their juice helps you feel fuller for longer, which will make your weight loss much more manageable.
    7. Helps clear skin: Lemons have natural antibacterial qualities and alpha hydroxyl acids, like many over-the-counter acne medications. It brightens, exfoliates, and helps remove blackheads!

    So how will you incorporate lemons and lemon juice into your life? Have you already seen the benefits of lemon in your daily diet or personal care regimen? Tell us in the comments below!

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  • Understanding

    Depression

    When you think of depression, you might think of being sad, or just down in the dumps. But in fact, it’s much more than that. It’s a clinical condition that can take control of your life and cause serious complications. According to the National Institute of Mental Health about 16 million people had at least one episode in the past year. To put that into perspective, that’s one out of every 10 people.

    depression graphic

    Symptoms of Depression and Treatment Options

    Depression symptoms may be different for everyone. One person may experience symptoms that seem to last for years, while others will only have moderate bouts and return to their normal life relatively quickly. However, depression can be treated, often with medication, psychological counseling or both. Other non-conventional treatments also may help. But before any type of treatment is initiated, the symptoms must be recognized. When people experience episodes of depression, they may suffer through:

    • Sadness, unhappiness, or an emptiness feeling
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Severe lack of energy where even the smallest tasks require extra effort
    • Loss of interest in hobbies or normal daily activities
    • Changes in appetite (some people may eat less and lose weight while some may overeat and gain weight)
    • Anxiety or restlessness
    • Fogginess, confusion, and slowed speaking or body movements
    • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide

    Causes of Depression

    Because depression is such a complex disease, the causes of it can greatly vary. One theory suggests that it may be caused from having too much or too little of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemicals communicate information throughout our brain and body. When the nerves that release these chemicals malfunction, too little or too much of these neurotransmitters may be released, which has been linked as a known cause of depression. Certain antidepressant medications work to control the release of these neurotransmitters.

    Yet, this information is not conclusive. Many researchers don’t agree that a simple increase or decrease of brain chemicals is the lone factor when determining that causes of depression. Rather, it’s a combination of factors, which may include:

    • Genetic vulnerability (depression may be more common in people whose relatives also suffer, or have suffered from depression)
    • Faulty mood regulation by the brain
    • Stressful life events (loss of a loved one, high stress, childhood trauma or recent trauma)
    • Medications or medical problems

    Depression Is Not Mental Weakness

    Often, people associate being depressed as a sign of weakness. In a recent study conducted by the National Mental Health Association, out of 1,022 adults interviewed by telephone, 43 percent said they believed depression is a personal weakness. However, this is far from the truth. Depression does not discriminate. It can affect anyone of any ethnicity. Whether, you’re rich or poor, or old or young, depression can affect you.

    If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, seek help. It’s never too late talk to someone about getting better. There are an array of hot lines and helpful information where you can seek the help of professionals 24 hours a day. There is also helpful information on suicide awareness and prevention.

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Men’s Health Tips By the Decades

by Main Slider by Orthopaedic Surgery

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In recognition of Men’s Health Week (June 9-14), Christopher Rhody, MD, a primary care physician at West Hills Family Practice–UPMC, offers tips to make the most of each decade of life. Check out this infographic and read the article below to learn more about our Men’s Health Tips.

Celebrate Men’s Health Week by sharing this with all the men in your life to make health a priority!

upmc-health-decades-men

In your 20s…

In this age group, two important things to pay attention to are your diet and the amount of exercise you get every day. During this decade it is important for males to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, as they will influence their health behaviors later in life. For exercise, running or jogging is a good option for most young males. If running is not an option, then a two-mile walk at a brisk pace is sufficient. If you use supplements to enhance your workouts, be mindful of the ingredients.

Many people in their 20s live a very active and on-the-go lifestyle that can make eating healthy difficult. Dr. Rhody’s rule of thumb when eating on the go is, “If they can get it to you in less than 15 minutes, don’t eat it.” Men in this stage of life may consider their diet as healthy if they are following the nutritional guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This means for each meal, at least half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, and the other half should include equal portions of whole grains and lean protein.

Dr. Rhody also points out, “What happens in your 20s effects you in your 50s.” An example of this is men who experience health difficulties later in life due to their prolonged time in the sun early in life. It is important to take care of your skin at any age by avoiding tanning beds and using sunscreen and protective measures, such as wearing sunglasses or a hat to help prevent the risk of skin cancer later on in life.

Also during this stage, males tend to lose weight much easier but it will not always be that way. As men age, their ability to lose weight easily and quickly will decrease. Practice healthy habits early on and abide by them throughout your lifetime.

In your 30s…

Dr. Rhody stresses the importance of scheduling regular visits to your primary care physician for routine check-ups and testing during this decade. Many men in their 30s do not feel like they have the time or the need to go to the doctor because they feel fine. Whether or not you feel perfectly healthy, routine tests can help uncover hidden health problems. Your primary care physician can help determine what type of testing is best suited for you.

Exercise and diet become even more crucial for men in their 30s because of the likelihood of significant lifestyle changes that can accompany this decade. Many men are working longer hours, getting married, or raising a family so some of their healthy lifestyle habits can fall by the wayside. It is important to make sure you exercise daily. Males in their 30s need a longer, more sustained period of exercise, rather than short bursts of activity such as chasing their children around the yard.

Dr. Rhody encourages men to not become sedentary as they go through this period in their lives. It’s also important to concentrate more on their diet than they may have before, even if daily exercise is not always possible. Men’s ability to control their weight decreases with age, so it becomes even more important to make sure you are making healthy, nutritious choices for your meals.

In your 40s…

Similar to your 30s, Dr. Rhody urges men in their 40s visit the doctor on a regular basis. This is the age when men may begin to experience prostate or heart problems. Consulting your doctor to help determine the appropriate testing may help to catch problems early and before they become more serious health concerns.

A proper diet continues to be very important and has several health benefits for men in their 40s. Males should eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and be mindful of serving size. Follow the basic rule of “all things in moderation,” and remember that a serving size is approximately the size of a deck of cards. If getting the recommended two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables a day is a challenge, try taking a multivitamin to help you get the proper vitamins and nutrients. It is also especially important for men in this age group to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, as it has numerous benefits for your skin, waistline, and overall health.

Exercise is key at any stage of a man’s life, and the 40s are no different. As men age, especially those who have been very active, joint pain and stiffness may increase and can start to slow some men down. Daily exercise is preferred, but listening to your body’s limits is essential. If other exercise becomes challenging a two-mile walk is recommended. Dr. Rhody suggests walking at a pace “fast enough so that when you are talking while walking, you feel the need to take a deep breath after speaking.”

In your 50s…

Dr. Rhody urges men of this decade to work with their doctors to develop the health plan that’s best for them. This may include screenings, tests, and assessments. Be sure to ask if a colonoscopy is right for you and talk about ways to maintain diet and exercise routines.

As you advance into your 50s, Dr. Rhody offers the following tips to maintain a healthy diet:

  • Cut out unnecessary sugars
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Pay attention to your choices regarding alcohol type because these calories can quickly add up

Men in their 50s should also focus on incorporating new activities into their lifestyles. Don’t let the stiffness that comes with aging prevent you from exercising. Consider changing up your fitness routine to include joint-friendly options like swimming (around 20 laps a day), biking (10 miles daily), or simply adjusting your pace on walks.

In your 60s…

In addition to maintaining some level of physical activity, Dr. Rhody recommends focusing on mental adjustments to the life changes this decade brings. Continue to stay active and busy if and when you have retired from your regular career or job. To keep your mind active, consider the following tips:

  • Read more
  • Join clubs and senior leagues
  • Take leadership roles in your organizations

If possible, integrate physical activity into your routines. Contrary to common belief, you do not have to slow down at this age. Dr. Rhody cautions that becoming sedentary at this age could be detrimental..

Don’t worry if you have not previously been physically active. Tai Chi, Yoga, and other fitness programs that focus on stretching can provide many health benefits. Remember to hydrate before, during, and after workouts to help prevent injuries.

Actively manage your health at this age. Keep records of your appointments, medications, and symptoms. Stay current on tests, screenings, and assessments.

In your 70s and beyond…

Men in their 70s should take care to keep the home environment safe. Vision often deteriorates as we age so be sure to remove loose rugs, sharp edges, and other health and safety hazards. Consider adding safety handles in the bathroom and signing up for medical monitoring services. If living alone, consider welcoming a small pet into your household.

Dr. Rhody emphasizes the importance of centralizing your medical care with primary care physicians. Keep records of your medications and side effects but remember primary care physicians can be used as your health care hub to help you stay informed about your health care needs.

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About Orthopaedic Surgery

An established leader in advanced orthopaedic care, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery offers comprehensive services for the full spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions. Our more than 40 orthopaedic surgeons and staff use some of the latest imaging technologies for diagnoses, and perform some of the most advanced surgical techniques as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

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