Sustainability for the Community

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Can Dietary Changes Affect Fertility?

Ever wonder why some women can get pregnant at the drop of a hat (or underwear), and others try month after month (and even year after year)? There are a multitude of factors to consider including hormones, environment, diet, weight, age, sperm count and quality, ovulation issues, endometriosis, chemicals, toxins, infections, and more.

I remember when I struggled with infertility. 12 years ago there wasn’t the amount of research that there is today. There wasn’t Google or much of an internet. Resources were not at my fingertips. If I stumbled across an article in the newspaper I devoured every word and saved it. I do not ever remember reading an article though, that suggested relaxation techniques, seeking alternative therapies, or that my infertility may be caused by what I was, or wasn’t, eating.

After a year, when things weren’t working, we moved right into assisted reproduction without hesitating and without knowing there were other, less costly options to try first. Here, we learned a lot of acronyms, IUI, ICSI, and IVF, to name a few. My hormones were at the mercy of the drugs I was given — including the needles I injected myself with. We had our very own red, plastic, HAZARDOUS WASTE box that took its place on our nightstand where once was a scented candle.

We were overwhelmed, frustrated, distraught, and alone. We were alone because friends all around us were getting pregnant “just like that.” We were alone because we didn’t know anything and my diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” further frustrated us because there was no solution attached. And we were alone because the smart ones who wear the white coats did nothing to enlighten us.

None of the doctors we saw spent more than 5 minutes with us. There was no discussion of our situation, no quality interaction, no personal communication. We saw technician after technician for blood samples, lab tests, ultrasounds. And they, understandably, were worse than the doctors.

There were times when I felt inadequate. There were moments when we lost touch with each other. The romance was rapidly waning and sex became scheduled and uninviting.

After several failures and several thousand dollars invested, there finally was success. However, I would have loved to know then what I know today. It may have saved much effort and heartache.

Today, there is more research and more resources available. Making sense of it all is another story. The good news is that making a few small changes to one’s diet can be the key to some infertility problems. It is easy to implement and improving your diet can help with some of the other factors, like promoting healthy ovulation, balancing weight and healing the body. It can also reduce the risk for miscarriage and help to prepare for pregnancy.

So what can you do? Improve your chances of conceiving by getting rid of processed food, refined flours and sugars. Avoid fast food, fries, and foods made with transfats. Opt for organic, whole foods. Try not to let stress be an added factor. De-stress with yoga, exercise, breathing techniques, talking and/or counseling. Also, assess your body. What kind of shape is it in? Have you taken care of it? Do you eat right? Do you have any conditions (asthma, allergies, emotional, autoimmune)? Are you over or under weight?

There are numerous dietary and lifestyle changes you can try — many of which have been shown to promote fertility. For example, research from the Harvard Nurses Study showed that women who drank full fat milk had better success rates than those who drank low fat milk. Of course the tricky thing there is that some women may have sensitivity to dairy (without even knowing it) in which case increasing your intake of full-fat milk and cheese is probably not a good idea.

Working with a health coach can help. We are here to help you explore what factors may be contributing to your infertility. We are here to take the time and talk. We are here to help you get your body in the best shape, so that it can be receptive to your attempts. Your body is magic, it is art, it can heal, it can protect, and it is the only thing you’ve got. Learn what your body can do for you when you feed it.

Charissa Sharkey (HINT: Holistic. Idyllic. Natural. Transformation)

Prescription Drug Costs

Response to article in: AARP Bulletin, Vol.52, No.10, “Lipitor’s Price to Fall But Slowly By Patricia Barry

(from the article) Under a negotiated legal settlement, the manufacturer Ranbaxy will be able to sell generic atorvastatin for 6 months without competition after Pfizer’s patent on Lipitor expired Nov. 30. During this period, the generic’s price is expected to undercut Lipitor’s by only about 10 to 20 percent

Sirs:  If the patent on Lipitor is expired, why can’t ANY drug company make and sell the generic atorvastatin right NOW, subject to the same quality regulations that apply to any other generic medication? And sell it subject to the price competition of an open market?

Don’t the editors of the AARP Bulletin believe that AARP members would like to know more about the apparent drug price-fixing described in this story?

What kind of “negotiated legal settlement” took place? Who were the parties? Are we being “protected” in the same way that we’re being “protected” against buying reasonably-priced drugs from Canada? Are the financial interests of drug companies being put ahead of the those of the American citizen – yet again?

Please tell us why we still have spend $4-5 per pill of atorvastatin for another 6 months. And while you’re at it, please tell us how much hard cash this adds up to, coming out of the
pockets of older consumers who are the primary market for statin drugs.     Barry Levine, L.Ac.

Pneumococcal/Pneumonia Vaccine

Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria that can infect the lungs (as pneumonia), the blood, and the membrane that covers the brain. The disease is most likely to strike in the winter and spring, aligning itself with the flu season. Pneumococcal disease is one of the most common causes of vaccine-preventable death in the country. Every year thousands of people need hospital treatment, and up to 5,500 people die because of pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal infection is the cause of more than one-third of pneumonia in adults. It is also the leading cause of pneumonia, blood infection, and ear infections in children.

There are two vaccines to prevent pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) or Pneumovax protects against 23 strains most likely to cause disease in older children and adults, and is approved for people 2 years of age and older. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) or Prevnar-13 protects against 13 types of the pneumococcal bacteria most likely to cause infection in young children, and is approved for infants and children younger than 5 years of age.

PPSV is recommended for everyone 65 years of age and older and people who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. Anyone who is 2-64 years of age with the following medical conditions should also consider PPSV: chronic heart or lung problems, diabetes, liver problems, cochlear implants, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks, weakened immune systems caused by conditions such as sickle cell disease, having the spleen removed, kidney failure, cancer, organ transplants, drugs that weaken the immune systems, and HIV infection or AIDS.

Most people need only one dose of pneumococcal (PPSV) vaccine. If you are 65 years of age or older or if you have a chronic health problem, talk to your doctor or nurse to find out if you need a booster. It is a good idea to keep careful records of the vaccines you receive so your doctor will  know when you need another.

The Health Department offers PPSV to Norwood Residents during our weekly immunization clinics on Tuesdays from 1:00-3:00 PM in the Health Department offices on the ground floor of Town Hall. The Department is also open the first Monday of every month from 6:00-7:30 PM for vaccinations and other Health Department business. Please call ahead to ensure vaccine availability. You may contact the Public Health Nurse at 781-762-1240 ext 173.

All children 6 weeks-23 months of age should get the PCV13, as well as children 2–5 years of age with the following conditions: chronic heart or lung problems, diabetes, liver problems, cochlear implants, or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks, weakened immune systems caused by sickle cell disease, having the spleen removed, kidney failure, cancer, organ transplants, drugs that weaken the immune systems, and HIV infection or AIDS. Contact your child’s doctor for more information on Prevnar13.

Any vaccine can cause side effects in some people. Some people who get pneumococcal vaccines have a little swelling and pain in the arm where the shot was given. This usually lasts for less than 2 days. Some children getting PCV13 may have a fever that lasts a few days. Other side effects, such as aching muscles, and severe side effects, such as allergic reactions, are rare.   Sigalle Reiss (Director, Health Department)

Yearly Flu Shot

The best way to protect you and your family against the flu is to get your flu shot every year. The Norwood Health Department offers flu clinics to Norwood Residents 14 years and older. This year’s clinic is scheduled for Oct 15th from 9-11AM at the Senior Center. Please register at It is important for all participants to bring their insurance cards. While insurance information is collected, there are no co-pays and no one is denied a shot if they are not insured.

As flu season approaches, the Health Department’s flu information line always has the most up-to-date information on vaccine availability and flu clinic schedules. The recording can be reached by calling Town Hall at 781-762-1240 and asking for the flu line or extension 220. You can also follow the Health Department on Twitter @norwoodHD for flu and other programs the department offers.

Flu is a disease of the body’s respiratory system, including the nose, throat and lungs.  Flu is short for “influenza” and is caused by a virus. In New England, the yearly flu season usually begins in December and lasts through March. The flu virus changes slightly from year to year. Due to the virus changes, it is important to get the shot each year to protect against the particular strains circulating.

Every 30-40 years, the virus has a major change, as we saw in 2009-2010 season with H1N1 flu. The timing and severity of the change meant it was not included in the regular seasonal flu shot. It required a huge effort from public health officials to mount a quick and effective vaccine program to control the spread of the virus. Because of the programs to control infection and the huge vaccination efforts, the H1N1 flu ended up less severe than expected. The lesson public health learned is that with vast amounts of preventative efforts, including infection control measures and a large portion of the population vaccinated, illness and deaths are decreased.

Every year in the U.S., seasonal flu causes thousands of hospital admissions and deaths.  Some people are at higher risk of serious health problems when they get the flu.  This includes pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and people with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and weakened immune systems.

The best way to control the spread of the flu virus is to vaccinate as large a percentage of the population as possible, reducing the chance of the virus spreading from person to person. While the flu may not be not life threatening to a healthy individual, that individual can spread the virus, even before the onset of symptoms, to others such as infants or the elderly for whom the flu virus can be much more serious and perhaps life threatening.

The viruses in the injectable vaccine have been killed, so you cannot get the flu from the shot. As with any new medication or treatment, there is always the risk of allergic reaction. The first time you get a flu shot you should wait 15 minutes with the medical staff to ensure no allergic reaction. Soreness, redness, or swelling may occur at the site of injection. Life-threatening allergic reactions are very rare. Any risk of complications from the flu vaccine is rare and much lower than the risk of severe flu, which can be prevented by the vaccination.

The flu virus is in the wet spray (droplets of saliva and mucous) that comes out of the nose and mouth of someone who coughs or sneezes.  If you are close enough to a person with the flu (about 3-6 feet) when they cough or sneeze, you can breathe in the virus and get sick.  Flu symptoms start one to four days after exposure, with most people showing symptoms after two days. The virus can also live for a short time on things you touch like doorknobs, phones, and toys.  After you touch these objects, you can catch the virus when you then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.

In addition to the flu shot, there are other measures you can take to avoid the flu and other illnesses. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inside of your elbow, and always wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Use household cleaners for things that are touched often, like door knobs, toys, and phones. Also, avoid close physical contact with people who are sick, and those who are at high risk of complications from flu should avoid crowds during the flu season.   Sigalle Reiss (Director, Health Department)