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And Your Community Hospital

Organic Food:

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There Really is a Difference Vaccinations Are Not the Enemy Coping with Fear

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North Shore-LIJ Health Blog
Arm yourself with the latest news to help you make better health choices at Our experts share valuable insight on wellness, behavioral health, pediatrics, heart health, neuroscience, orthopedics and more.

Grain legumes, such as lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are a great choice for a healthier diet, packed with energy and essential nutrients. Theyre high in protein like meat, but contain much more fiber and are low in fat. Pound for pound, they are a bigger bang for your buck. Most of all, they are extremely versatile and can be easily incorporated into any meal by adding them to soups and salads or replacing the meat in your main dish.

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And Your Community Hospital

Organic Food: Health or Hype?

Organic choices are more abundant than ever, but many shoppers wonder if organic food really is better. Learn more about what it means to buy organic.

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Vaccinations: Too Important to Ignore

Its easy to take them for granted, but vaccines play a vital role in preventing the spread of many diseases that once caused deadly epidemics. Know the facts and protect your family.

Coping with Fear

Phobias of all kinds affect millions of adults and children. Although the cause of these fears may not be defined, in most cases, phobias are treatable.


Organic F ood
On one hand, you have a conventionally grown apple. On the other, you have an organic apple. Both are firm, shiny and red. Both provide vitamins and fiber, and both are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. Which should you choose? Conventionally grown produce generally costs less, but many shoppers wonder if the organic choices are truly more healthy. As they say, the best customer is the most informed, so what does organic mean in terms of food?

Health or Hype?
Here are some key differences between conventional farming and organic farming:
Organic Feed soil and plants with natural fertilizers like manure or compost. Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease. Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds. Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing to help minimize disease. Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.

Once found only in health food stores, organic food is now a regular feature at most supermarkets, creating a bit of a dilemma.

Causes and Treatments

The word organic refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices encourage soil and water conservation, and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat dont use conventional petroleum-derived fertilizers, chemical pesticides or antibiotics, instead using methods inspired by natures own balance.

Spray insecticides to reduce pests and disease. Use herbicides to manage weeds.

Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.

Organic or Not?
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed. Any product labeled as organic must be USDA-certified. If a food bears a USDA organic label, it means its produced and processed according to the USDA standards. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it. Products that are completely organic fruits, vegetables, eggs and other single-ingredient foods are labeled 100 percent organic and may carry the USDA seal. Products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients may say made with organic ingredients on the label, but may not use the seal. Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients cant use the seal or the word organic on their product labels. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however.

conventional foods. The researchers concluded that organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs are comparable in their vitamin content. Another study showed that organic produce contains significantly more anti-oxidants. Research in this area is ongoing.

Pesticides, Additives, the Environmentand Cost

Several factors influence the decision to choose organic food. Some people choose it because they prefer the taste or for sustainability reasons, since organic farms dont use fertilizers that come from fossil fuels and have less impact on water and soil quality. Others opt for organic produce because of health concerns regarding exposure to chemical pesticides and herbicides. Theres some validity to those concerns. Though the USDA sets acceptable pesticide levels for foods, studies suggest that pesticide residues may have cumulative health effects on both humans and animals. At the same time, cost is a common concern with organic food. Organic meat and produce typically cost more than their conventional counterparts, mostly because organic farming methods are more labor-intensive and can produce lower yields. For most families, a good strategy for going organic is a moderate one focus on foods that make the biggest impact. Commercially farmed foods can vary in the levels of chemical residue that makes it to your table; thin-skinned fruits and potatoes have the highest levels of pesticides, while bananas, pineapples and onions carry very little. A good resource is the Environmental Working Group shoppers guide, which features the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists of produce. View the list at

Do Organic and Natural Mean the Same Thing?

Buyer beware: natural and organic are not interchangeable terms. You may see natural and other terms such as all natural, free-range or hormone-free on food labels, but these terms are not regulated and many food producers use language like this in misleading ways. Only foods that are grown or processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.

Is Organic Food More Nutritious?

The answer isnt yet clear. A recent study examined the past 50 years worth of scientific articles about the nutrient content of organic and

The Dirty Dozen

According to the Environmental Working Group, these foods are the most important to buy organic since they are more likely to carry pesticide residues.

The Clean 15
The produce listed below have shown little to no traces of pesticides, and are considered safe to consume in non-organic form.

Peaches Apples Sweet Bell Peppers Celery Nectarines Strawberries

Cherries Pears Grapes (Imported) Spinach Lettuce Potatoes

Onions Sweet Corn Pineapples Avocado Cabbage Sweet Peas Asparagus Mangoes

Eggplant Kiwi Cantaloupe (domestic) Sweet Potatoes Grapefruit Watermelon Mushrooms

Its always better to prevent a disease than to treat it.
Thats why vaccines are so important: Vaccines can protect both the people who receive the immunization and others around them. Over the years, vaccines have prevented countless cases of infectious diseases, saving millions of lives. Many formerly common infectious diseases have been controlled by vaccines, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps and tetanus. A vaccine eradicated smallpox, one of the most devastating diseases in history. We are all connected, explained Bruce Hirsch, MD, attending physician in infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital. Our health is related to the health and well-being of others around us. The great infectious diseases of our day circle the globe as is the case with influenza. The vulnerability of our society is enhanced when individuals are susceptible to infection and to spreading that infection to others. Vaccines help the healthy stay healthy as well as protecting the vulnerable from dangerous exposure in the first place.

Why Are Childhood Vaccines So Important?

While babies are at first immune to many diseases because they receive antibodies from their mothers, this immunity goes away during the first year of life. Young children dont have this maternal immunity against some diseases, such as whooping cough. An unvaccinated child who is exposed to disease germs may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles and polio. Those same germs exist today, but thanks to protection by vaccines, these diseases are much less common. Within my professional career, I have seen the disappearance of serious infections, said Lorry Rubin, MD, director of pediatric infectious diseases at the Cohen Childrens Medical Center of New York. For example, Haemophilus influenzae Type b, also called Hib, was the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in young children and was the most common cause of acquired developmental disabilities. The vaccine is so effective that none of our current pediatric resident physicians have ever seen a case.

Dr. Rubin also cites the relatively new rotavirus vaccine as a current example of a highly effective vaccine that prevents a serious form of diarrhea in young children that often results in doctor visits and hospitalization to treat dehydration. In some ways, vaccines are victims of their own success. Since they are so effective, it is easy to take them for granted. But parents who choose to opt out of vaccinations for their children could be putting their families at risk. Parents who may be reluctant to vaccinate their children should talk to their healthcare provider. No vaccine, or for that matter any medicine or procedure, is entirely without risk, but each of the vaccines recommended for children has been carefully studied and analyzed and it has been determined that the benefits far outweigh the risks.


Learn more about vaccinations at or scan the QR code.

Are phobias inhibiting your life?

Terrified of spiders? Scared to step into an elevator? Well, youre not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, phobias an irrational and excessive fear of an object or situation affect millions of Americans. Why do people have phobias? There are plenty of theories, but whatever the cause, phobias can usually be successfully treated. Up to 50 percent of people suffering from anxiety do not seek treatment and manage with the symptoms as best they can, said Victor Fornari, MD, director of child and adolescent psychiatry for the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Phobias, specifically, are largely under-reported, mostly because many sufferers find ways to avoid the situations that trigger the anxiety. Statistics estimating how many people suffer from phobias vary widely for this reason. At minimum, they afflict more than six million people in the United States, often starting in childhood. In all western countries, phobias strike seven to 13 percent of the population. Women tend to be twice as likely to suffer from phobias as men. Common symptoms associated with phobias include: Dizziness Breathlessness Nausea A sense of unreality Fear of dying In some cases, these symptoms can escalate into full-scale anxiety attacks. Consequently, some individuals begin to isolate themselves, leading to severe difficulties in daily life. In other cases, the individual may seek out medical care.

Causes and Treatments

While there is no one specific known cause for phobias, they are thought to run in families, be influenced by culture and ones upbringing, and triggered by life events. Immediate family members of people with phobias are about three times more likely to suffer from a phobia than those without such a family history. Those whose parents were either overly protective or distant may also be at a greater risk. According to Dr. Fornari, Our anxiety is a barometer for when we need to be cautious, so a certain amount of fear is normal and healthy like when we cross a busy street. When were immobilized by our fears and they interfere with our relationships, work and daily activities, that is something much more serious and should be treated. Some combination of psychological counseling and medication can reduce symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy, in particular, has helped to decrease phobic symptoms significantly by helping the sufferer change thought patterns gradually shifting from paralyzing negative thoughts to more rational responses and behavior. Cognitive behavioral therapy can resolve most or all of the symptoms, along with anti-anxiety medications, if the counseling isnt quite enough. These are very effective evidence-based treatments, Dr. Fornari explained. In mild cases, a few sessions may be needed. In moderate cases, 10 to 12 sessions may do the trick, along with medication. Severe cases may warrant longer treatment.

Scary Monsters
Young children also exhibit irrational fears, often at bedtime. Children can be frightened of anything from the idea of monsters under the bed to being abandoned by their parents. The goal for parents is to calm the child and not exacerbate the fear. How to approach this goal depends on the childs personality. Some kids may be soothed if Mom or Dad checks under the bed for monsters. But those with a scientific bent may see the monster hunt as proof that the creatures exist. If your child only seems more upset, back off and try talking more directly about the fear: I know a dark room can be scary. I was scared when I was your age, too. Offer a practical solution, such as a night-light or a special back rub to calm her.

Ten of the Most Common Phobias:

1. Arachnophobia: The fear of spiders. 2. Ophidiophobia: The fear of snakes. 3. Acrophobia: The fear of heights. 4. Agoraphobia: The fear of situations in which escape is difficult (crowded or confined spaces). 5. Cynophobia: The fear of dogs. 6. Astraphobia: The fear of thunder and lightning. 7. Trypanophobia: The fear of injections. 8. Social Phobias: A fear of being judged by others and being embarrassed. 9. Pteromerhanophobia: The fear of flying. 10. Mysophobia: The fear of germs or dirt.

However you proceed, never minimize your childs fears. Bluntly stating, theres no such thing or theres nothing to be afraid of wont help at all. Those monsters are very real to kids. Your job is to help your child cope by offering compassionate reassurance and comfort.

Want more tips about about coping with common fears and phobias? Visit

OnlineExtra or scan the QR code.

North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Inc. Franklin Hospital 900 Franklin Avenue Valley Stream, New York 11580 Michael Dowling President and CEO, North Shore-LIJ Health System Terry Lynam Vice President, Public Relations Brian Mulligan Assistant Vice President, Public Relations Maria Conforti Managing Editor For advertising opportunities, contact Alan Heyman at 631-656-9900 or Focus on Health is published by the Public Relations Department of the North Shore-LIJ Health System (516) 465-2600 The information within this publication is intended to educate readers about subjects pertinent to their health and is not meant to be a substitute for consultation with a personal physician. Designed, written and produced by: Onward Publishing, Inc., Northport, NY 11768 2012. Printed in USA.

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Shaking off the dust with group exercise

From cardio-kickboxing and spinning to yoga and Pilates, fitness classes are available to match your fitness level and needs. Experts agree that group exercise can be beneficial and fun. Working out in a group provides support and greater sustainability over time, said Jennifer Mieres, MD, a cardiologist and senior vice president for community health at the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Data from the American Heart Associations Go Red for Women campaign shows that 65 percent of the women who joined the program stayed with it after two years. There is definitely strength in numbers. Group exercise can help you stay focused. When people in the group are focusing on the same goal, everyone is more engaged and determined, added Dr. Mieres, especially if the instructor is inspirational and in tune with the needs of the participants. If thats the case, she added, a class can also help you move past a plateau and improve. To view the full article, please visit

Work it out!

When you need a laboratory test, nothing is more frustrating than using a facility that doesnt accept your insurance, doesnt perform the test you need, or doesnt have convenient hours. We operate differently. Were here for you (not the other way around). Through our patient service centers conveniently located throughout the region, we perform the full range of tests, from the simplest to the most specialized. And, we accept all major insurance plans, including Oxford, United, Emblem, and Aetna. The North Shore-LIJ Laboratories. The tests you need. The exibility you want. Ask your physician about us or visit one of our patient centers. To nd a location near you, call (516) 719-1100 or visit LOCATIONS #BZ4IPSFt#BZTJEFt#FUIQBHFt$FEBSIVSTU         'PSFTU)JMMTt(BSEFO$JUZt(MFO$PWFt(SFBU/FDL           )VOUJOHUPOt)VOUJOHUPO4UBUJPOt-BLF4VDDFTT       .BOIBTTFUt.BOIBUUBOt1BUDIPHVF      3FHP1BSLt4NJUIUPXOt4ZPTTFU