Rising Waters and Your Health

As with any natural disaster, flooding occurs quickly and with little warning. Rising waters cause physical and emotional damage, but the water itself is contaminated with chemicals, fecal matter and waste products that pose a public health risk. The Atlanta area has recently suffered extensive flooding and prompts us to make a few health related observations about rising waters and your health.

Apart from the obvious damage that flood waters cause to personal possessions they harbor many unseen dangers. Flood waters contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems, and agricultural and industrial byproducts and chemicals. Contact with your skin by itself does not pose a serious health risk, however there is a risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with flood water or exposure from a open cut. If you have any open cuts or sores that will be exposed to flood water, keep them as clean as possible by washing well with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling or drainage please seek immediate medical attention.

Children in particular are at risk to develop waterborne illness. Along with yourself help them practice basic hygiene during the high water period by washing hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected. This should be done before preparing or eating food, after using a toilet, and after handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage. Obviously, children should not be allowed to play in the flood water and avoid ingesting flood water. Parents should not allow children to play with flood-water contaminated toys that have not been disinfected. Disinfection can be done by using a solution of one cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning is also a known hazard after flooded situations. Many gasoline or diesel powered pumps and generators are used during the clean-up process. These devices release carbon monoxide, a deadly, colorless, odorless gas which can be deadly. It is difficult to assess appropriate ventilation as a result it is recommended that these devices only be operated outdoors.

Standing in water which is colder than 75 degrees F will remove body heat more rapidly than it can be replaced, resulting in hypothermia. To reduce the risk of hypothermia, wear rubber boots and take frequent breaks out of the water. Change into dry clothing when possible.

Floods can occur during all seasons and must be considered a public health risk. Take necessary precautions to keep your family safe even after the initial threat of rising water abates.

Alicia Verity brings 20 years of experience in the healthcare field, along w

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Improve Digestive Health With 3 Simple Changes

To have good health, we must have a healthy digestive system. Our bodies need good digestion to extract nutrients from our food and eliminate waste that could become toxic in our bodies. Unfortunately, our culture does not promote a lifestyle that encourages choices that lead to good digestive health. Making a few changes in our choices can make a huge difference in our digestive health.

A healthy digestive system requires adequate amounts of dietary fiber and beneficial microflora to operate correctly. When these requirements are not met we can become bloated and gassy. Eating right, exercising, and maintaining the right amount of microflora can be challenging depending on our age and nutrition level.

The first change we should make is in our diet. It’s important to have plenty of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. The typical “Western” diet is high in simple carbohydrates, fat, and animal protein – but low in fiber. Fiber helps to slow digestion and allow more nutrients to be absorbed into our bodies. It also keeps the colon cleansed and prevents a build up of toxins within our bodies. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are healthy sources of the fiber our bodies need daily.

Increased exercise is a second change that can improve digestive health. Exercise helps with good circulation, muscle tone, and calorie consumption. Maintaining a healthy weight and strong heart is important for all systems of our bodies to function properly, including the digestive system.

Maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial intestinal microflora is the third change that can improve digestive health. Many things can upset the natural balance of microflora, such as aging, a poor diet, or taking antibiotics – especially in children. Keeping a high number of beneficial microflora in the digestive tract is important for enhanced immune function and detoxification of the colon.

The two primary microflora that benefit the digestive system are lactobacilli, found mainly in the small intestine, and bifidobacteria, found mainly in the colon. These good bacteria control the bad bacteria and keep the digestive system healthy. Having a high number of the good microflora is essential to good digestive health and difficult to achieve with the typical diet. Therefore, supplementation with probiotics is a healthy and natural way to maintain optimal levels of beneficial microflora in our bodies.

Making a few changes to our lifestyle can go a long way toward improving our digestive health. Adding fiber, exercise, and a good probiotic supplement can benefit the function of the digestive system and improve our overall health. These changes can even pay for themselves with the boost we receive to the immune system that could cut both short-term and long-term medical expenses. These are changes that are well worth the effort.

Sarah Lynn Stewart – nutritional health exp

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