Healthy Eating Tips


Here are some tips for healthy eating at home, work, and elsewhere to help you get started.  Try some of these ideas.

Start your day off right!

  • Eat breakfast!
  • Drink 100% fruit juice (canned, from a carton, or freshly squeezed) with breakfast, or take a can to drink at work.
  • Spruce up your breakfast—a banana or handful of berries will liven up your cereal, yogurt, waffles, or pancakes.
  • Take a piece of fruit to munch on during your commute.

Wouldn’t it be easier to eat something if it was right in front of you? An easy way to make fruits and vegetables more accessible to you is to make sure you buy them. Make sense, right? So when you go grocery shopping, hit the produce section first. Then keep bowls of fruit on the kitchen table and counter. Now that you’ve bought them, eat them.

Baked potatoes, corn on the cob, bread. What do these items often have in common? We cover them with butter, right? And if we’re not careful—and we aren’t all the time—we don’t realize how much we actually use. If you must use butter and margarine, use them sparingly. Even better, switch to reduced-fat margarine or try jelly on your bread, bagels, and other baked goods.

Use “lite” or low-fat dairy products (e.g., milk, cheese, yogurt, or sour cream). Use in recipes and/or drink 1% or skim milk. You’ll still get the nutrients and taste but not the fat.

When you make or buy a salad, a little bit of salad dressing goes a long way. Measure 1 tablespoon of dressing and toss well with your salad. The dressing coats the salad instead of drenching it. For even more flavor, sprinkle the salad with lemon pepper before adding dressing. Even better, use light or fat-free salad dressing. The same principle applies when using condiments, a little mayonnaise is all you need. Or use the light or fat-free kind.

If you like to eat meat, there’s no reason you have to give it up. But you can help reduce fat by choosing the leanest cuts such as beef round, loin, sirloin, pork loin chops, turkey, chicken, and roasts. All cuts with the name “loin” or “round” are lean. And if you cook it yourself, trim all visible fat and drain the grease.

What can we say about fried foods? They taste great, but are not great for you. They’re high in fat. We’ve come up with a few suggestions that will save your arteries. Use oils sparingly (try olive and canola oils). Bake chicken without the skin. Substitute a potato for french fries.

Why do we eat snacks? They taste great, they’re easy, and they satisfy our sweet and salt cravings. And, let’s face it, crunchy food is fun. So why not make your own snacks by packing healthy, quick, and easy-to-grab foods such as little bags or containers of ready-to-eat vegetables (e.g., celery sticks, cucumber wedges, and cherry tomatoes). Or make healthier choices on snacks that are store bought, like pretzels. Keep them with you in your briefcase, office, car and home.

If you’re like most people, no matter how much you’ve eaten at dinner, there’s always room for desserts and sweets. “I’m stuffed. Couldn’t eat another bite. What’s that? You’ve got ice cream? Well, okay.” You can still say “okay,” just

  • Cut down on the portion size and how often you eat these items.
  • Substitute low-fat or fat-free baked goods, cookies, and ice cream. They still taste great.
  • Choose fruit. It tastes great, is filling, and provides energy.

One word of caution: just because something is fat free or low fat doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Many low-fat or nonfat foods are also high in calories. Eat everything in moderation.

You’re in a restaurant or ordering in. When the food arrives, it’s piled so high you think there’s no way you can finish it. Sometimes it tastes so good you can’t stop. But then you’re too full. Typical restaurant servings are often twice the size of a single serving. Try this: When dining out or ordering in, ask for half of a serving or a “doggy bag.” That way you won’t be as full, and you can have some tomorrow.

Fast food combines two of our favorite desires: things in a hurry and food. Unfortunately, it also tends to combine a lot of fat and calories. But it doesn’t have to if we’re careful. You can still get food in a hurry, but try these suggestions.

  • Order a lean roast beef sandwich.
  • Order grilled chicken sandwiches and do the fixings “your way.”
  • Keep the portions to regular and small. No “double” anything or “going large.”
  • Order items without the cheese.

Free Prescription Drug Programs



Are you struggling with the cost of prescription drugs?

If you have no health insurance coverage or cannot afford prescriptions that are very expensive, you may be able to take advantage of a number of private programs that will provide some prescription drugs to you at no charge.

Most large drug manufacturers operate assistance programs to ensure that medicines are available to those who cannot afford them. The programs are generally intended for people who have limited financial resources, have no health insurance coverage, and who do not qualify for Medicaid or other government-sponsored health programs that provide prescription drugs.

Although the program guidelines to vary by manufacturer, most require an application be made to the drug manufacturer either by the patient or their physician, accompanied by a prescription signed by the physician. To qualify, you must meet income guidelines established by the manufacturer. If you are found to be eligible, most of these programs will provide a one to three month supply of the drug shipped directly either to you or your doctor.

It’s important to ask your doctor if the drug you are taking is available through one of these programs, especially since some programs may require your doctor to fill out forms or other paperwork.

There are a number of information sources to learn more about prescription drug assistance programs offered by manufacturers. One of the most comprehensive sources of program information is the Directory of Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs, compiled annually by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). A copy of the directory is available by mail by calling PhRMA at 1-800-762-4636. The directory can also be downloaded directly from the Internet at

In Kentucky, the Kentucky Physicians Care Program provides one routine office visit to Kentuckians who have no health insurance or who do not qualify for Medicaid. Physicians, pharmacists, dentists, and other health care providers volunteer their time under this program.

The Kentucky Physicians Care Program also has agreements with several pharmaceutical companies to provide certain prescription drugs at no cost to eligible patients. To find out if you qualify for this program, inquire at your local Department of Community Based Services (DCBS) office. Additional information about the Kentucky Physicians Care Program is available by calling toll free at 1-800-633-8100 or by visiting the Health Kentucky website at:

If you are on Medicare, have no prescription drug coverage and have an annual income of less than $28,000 ($38,000 for couples) you may qualify for a new program called Together Rx. This program is provided by seven major pharmaceutical companies (Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, L.P., Novartis, and Ortho-McNeil Phamaceutical, Inc.) and offers savings on more than 150 widely prescribed medicines manufactured by these companies. Enrollment is free, and enrollees receive a card that entitles them to a discount of approximately 20 to 40% off the regular price of covered drugs. To apply for the program, call 1-800-865-7211 or download an application at

Medication for free? From who? What’s the catch?
Some pharmaceutical manufacturers have established programs to help make some of their drugs available free of charge to needy patients. Talk to your physician if you think you may be eligible for one of these programs.  Please be aware that these are not government-sponsored programs, and while many people have received free drugs, there is no guarantee that it will work for you.

Since these programs are voluntarily developed by manufacturers, each company determines its own eligibility criteria.  Many programs simply require that the physician determine that the patient cannot afford the drugs prescribed.  Other programs, especially those for very expensive drugs, require a patient to meet certain income or asset criteria. Private health insurance, third-party coverage, Medicaid, or Medicare may disqualify you from an indigent patient program.  Not all medications are available through these programs; consult the maker of your drugs directly.


Which pharmaceutical companies are involved in the program?

Table of Contents includes the following companies:
ALZA Pharmaceuticals
Amgen Inc
Astra Merck Inc
Astra USA Inc
Athena Neurosciences Inc
Bayer Corporation Pharmaceutical Division
Biogen Inc
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
Ciba Pharmaceuticals
DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company
Eisai Inc
Fujisawa USA Inc
Genentech Inc
Genetics Institute Inc
Genzyme Corporation
Gilead Sciences Inc
Glaxo Wellcome Inc
Hoechst Marion Roussel Inc
Janssen Pharmaceutical
Knoll Pharmaceutical Company
Lederle Laboratories
Eli Lilly and Company
The Liposome Company Inc
Merck & Co. Inc
Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Ortho Biotech Inc
Ortho Dermatological
Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc
Pasteur Merieux Connaught
Pfizer Inc
Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc
Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals Inc
Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc
Roche Laboratories Inc
Roxane Laboratories Inc
Sandoz Pharmaceutical Corporation
Sanofi Pharmaceuticals
Schering Laboratories/ Key Pharmaceuticals
Searle, Serono Laboratories Inc
Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals Inc
SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals
Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc
3M Pharmaceuticals
Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories
Zeneca Pharmaceuticals

5 A Day for Better Health

5adayThe 5 A Day for Better Health Program is a large-scale public/private partnership between the fruit and vegetable industry and the U. S. Government. This national nutrition program seeks to increase the number of daily servings Americans eat of fruits and vegetables to five or more. Along with this main goal, the program works to inform Americans that eating fruits and vegetables can improve their health and may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. The program provides consumers with easy ways to add more fruits and vegetables into their daily eating patterns.



Genital Herpes

Collage of a couple and images of herpes simplex virus. Most people infected with genital herpes do now know they have it.

Genital herpes is a common STD, and most people with genital herpes infection do not know they have it.

  • You can get genital herpes even if your partner shows no signs of the infection.
  • If you have any symptoms (like a sore on your genitals, especially one that periodically recurs) laboratory tests can help determine if you have genital herpes.
  • There is no cure for herpes, but treatment is available to reduce symptoms and decrease the risk of transmission to a partner.

CDC Fact SheetView Fact Sheet »
Signs, symptoms, transmission, treatment, prevention and more.

What You Need to Know About Genital HerpesExternal Web Site Icon – Video by Dr. Robyn Neblett Fanfair, Medical Officer in the Division of STD Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, summarizes important facts about genital herpes, including information on how herpes is spread, symptoms of the infection, and ways it is treated and prevented. (April 30, 2013)

How You Can Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Get the Facts

woman with laptop

Arm yourself with basic information about STDs: How are these diseases spread? How can you protect yourself? What are the treatment options? Learn the answers to these questions by reading the STD Fact Sheets.

Take Control

You have the facts; now protect yourself and your sexual partners. Effective strategies for reducing STD risk include:
couple holding hands


The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral).

girl being vaccinated


Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and HPV. HPV vaccinesfor males and females can protect against some of the most common types of HPV. It is best to get all three doses (shots) before becoming sexually active. However,  HPV vaccines are recommended for all teen girls and women through age 26 and all teen boys and men through age 21, who did not get all three doses of the vaccine when they were younger. You should also get vaccinated for hepatitis B if you were not vaccinated when you were younger.

couple embracing

Mutual monogamy:

Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs. But you must both be certain you are not infected with STDs. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.

couple in grassy field

Reduced number of sex partners:

Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for STDs. It is still important that you and your partner get tested, and that you share your test results with one another.



Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.

Put Yourself to the Test

doctor and patient

Knowing your STD status is a critical step to stopping STD transmission. If you know you are infected you can take steps to protect yourself and your partners.

Be sure to ask your healthcare provider to test you for STDs — asking is the only way to know whether you are receiving the right tests. And don’t forget to tell your partner to ask a healthcare provider about STD testing as well.

Many STDs can be easily diagnosed and treated. If either you or your partner is infected, both of you need to receive treatment at the same time to avoid getting re-infected.

You can quickly find a place to be tested for STDs by entering your zip code in the form below.



Pregnancy No-Nos

pregnancyPregnant? You already know to steer clear of alcohol and cigarettes. Here are other hazards to avoid.

When I was expecting my first child, threats to my baby’s health seemed to lurk everywhere. I knew, of course, that alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs of any kind were off-limits. But what about those lattes I’d chugged before I knew I was pregnant? Did I need to get rid of my beloved cats? What sort of environmental hazards was I unwittingly exposing my fetus to? Nine months of caffeine withdrawal, cat avoidance, and breath-holding-around-noxious-odors later, my strapping baby boy arrived.

Unlike me, you don’t have to be paranoid when you’re pregnant. “You can’t put yourself in a glass bottle during pregnancy—all you can do is avoid known risks,” says Dr. Robert Resnik, a professor of reproductive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. Since some women, such as those with high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, need to take extra precautions, talk to your doctor about special circumstances that relate to you. Also steer clear of the following:

Too Much Caffeine
For java junkies like me, the research on caffeine during pregnancy has been maddeningly contradictory. Some studies point to problems such as miscarriage and low birth weight, while others show no such relationship. The latest consensus is that only excessive amounts of caffeine (more than 300 milligrams a day) are likely to cause these problems, says Dr. Kathleen Bradley, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UCLA School of Medicine. The caffeine content of different brews varies, but you should be able to stay under the 300-milligram mark by limiting your daily quaffing to one or two 5-ounce cups of coffee or tea or a few 12-ounce cans of soda. (Since even non-colas can pack quite a caffeine punch, check the label before you imbibe.) And while chocolate does contain caffeine, it typically has much less—1 to 35 milligrams per one ounce—than coffee.

Cat Litter
Cat feces may play host to a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. The symptoms (fever, fatigue, and sore throat) are similar to those of a garden-variety flu, but the results (miscarriage, preterm labor, or serious health problems in the newborn) can be devastating. Even so, having a baby on board doesn’t mean you need to send your puss packing, says Marion McCartney, a certified nurse-midwife and the director of professional services at the American College of Nurse-Midwives in Washington, D.C. It simply means you should put your mate on litter-box duty for the nine-month duration. It’s also a good idea to wash your hands after heavy petting sessions with the cat and after handling raw meat. Don’t feed yourself or the cat undercooked meat (which can harbor the parasite). Wear gloves when you’re gardening and avoid children’s sandboxes. (Roaming cats may use these as litter boxes.)

Certain Foods
Beware, foodies: Uncooked, soft cheeses (such as feta, Camembert, Brie, and blue-veined varieties), unpasteurized milk and the foods made from it, and raw or undercooked meats, fish, and poultry may contain listeria bacteria. During pregnancy, listeriosis (symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, and nausea) can cause miscarriage, preterm labor, or stillbirth. Some seafood may also contain high levels of mercury, PCBs, and other toxins. If these foods are consumed during pregnancy, the baby is put at risk for developmental delays. (Your local health department may be able to tell you which fish to avoid.) Experts recommend that expecting mothers limit their servings of shark and swordfish—which contain higher levels of mercury than other fish—to one three-ounce serving a month. Finally, lab tests have linked heavy consumption of saccharine to cancer. Though you’re not likely to swill enough of the artificial sweetener to equal several times your body weight, you may still want to forgo those little pink packets for now. Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) appears to be a safe sugar substitute.

Herbal Remedies
You know that many prescription drugs are off-limits during pregnancy, but the natural remedies you can pick up at health-food stores are okay, aren’t they? Guess again: Herbal remedies can have a potent effect on your body—and your baby’s—cautions McCartney. Don’t take anything without running it by your health-care provider first. She’ll most likely tell you not to use any during your first trimester. Throughout your pregnancy, steer clear of goldenseal, mugwort, and pennyroyal, all of which have been associated with uterine contractions (which could possibly lead to miscarriage or preterm labor); Asian ginseng (which interferes with metabolism); and feverfew (though popular for migraine headaches, it has unpredictable effects on pregnant women). It’s also wise to avoid herbal teas that purport to have medicinal benefits.

Home Hazards
If you haven’t been gripped by that famous pregnancy cleaning-and-nesting frenzy, chances are you will be soon. Safety tips for those 3 a.m. floor-scrubbing and nursery-decorating sessions: Read labels carefully. Wear gloves and work in well-ventilated areas. And avoid aerosols (which disperse more chemicals into the air than pump bottles do), oven cleaners, paint fumes, solvents, and furniture strippers. Although frequent, heavy exposure to chemicals in the workplace (home workshops count, too) has been linked to birth defects, Bradley explains, home use of most products is more likely to make you feel faint or nauseous—not a great proposition when you’re nine months pregnant and perched high on a ladder or wedged behind the toilet.

Soaking in the hot tub or relaxing in a sauna may seem like the perfect way to pamper your pregnant body, but raising your core temperature—especially during the first trimester—may boost the odds of birth defects. It’s safe to soak in a lukewarm bath, though. Just make sure that the temperature is not above 100 degrees and that you get out after about ten minutes, Resnik advises. Sustained exercise in very hot, humid weather can also raise your core temperature. When you do exercise, be sure to drink liquids before, during, and after, and if you find that you’re heating up, take a five- or ten-minute breather.

Lead exposure has been linked to miscarriage, preterm labor, low birth weight, and mental and behavioral problems in children. Residue from the toxic metal can lurk in places you might not suspect: houses built before 1978 (the year lead paint was banned), tap water, even calcium supplements. A few precautions will reduce the amount of lead you come into contact with: Call in a lead-abatement specialist if you live in an older home with chipping or peeling paint. (Whatever you do, don’t try to sand or scrape it off yourself.) Filtering your water may help, or have your tap water tested. (Call the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 for a testing lab in your area.) Finally, if you take a calcium supplement, ask your doctor to recommend one that’s low in lead, such as Tums 500 Calcium Supplement.

Oral Sex
Don’t worry, you needn’t swear off oral gratification entirely. (After all, when you hit that physically awkward last trimester, there may not be much else you can do between the sheets.) But when he’s pleasuring you, your mate should be careful not to blow air into your vagina, if that’s something that’s part of his, uh, repertoire. Why? Your blood vessels are dilated during pregnancy, and, though the chances of this happening are very rare, a fatal air bubble could potentially enter your bloodstream, McCartney explains.

Certain Over-the-Counter Drugs
Your back is aching, your heart is burning, and your stomach is roiling—do you have to forgo all pharmaceutical relief? Not necessarily, says Bradley. But since even benign-seeming remedies, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and certain cold preparations, can cause problems for your baby, don’t pop any pill without your doctor’s approval. If one medication is off-limits, she can suggest an alternative. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), for instance, is fine.

Secondhand Smoke
You may have given up cigarettes, but if your mate’s still puffing away, your baby’s getting hefty doses of the 43 cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke. In fact, exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy raises the risk of low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, and other health problems. So ask your partner to quit or to cut down—if not for his own health, then for yours and your baby’s. And tell anyone who lights up around you to kindly take it outside.

Every time you look down, your growing belly reminds you of just how much your life will change once your baby is born. Exciting, yes. Stressful? You bet. Even so, try to take it easy. Stress causes the release of hormones that reduce blood flow to the placenta and triggers contractions, and it has been linked to miscarriage, preterm birth, and low birth weight, Bradley explains. If you hold a high-pressure job, do what you can to scale back. If you’re feeling the heat in your personal life, practice relaxation techniques, surround yourself with supportive people, and seek counseling if need be.

Vitamin A
As is the case with its chemical relative Accutane (a prescription acne drug), high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy can cause heart and facial defects, says Resnik. How much is too much? Some studies have indicated that problems can occur when pregnant women take more than 10,000 international units (IU) a day, while others list 25,000 IUs and even 50,000 IUs as the threshold. You get a fair amount of vitamin A from the food you eat, and though the dose in your prenatal vitamin should be fine, your doctor can tell you whether it’s an excessive amount.

Leah Hennen is a writer and editor in San Francisco and the mother of two, ages four and one.

How Do Diabetes Complications Affect African Americans?


Compared with white Americans, African Americans experience higher rates of diabetes complications such as eye disease, kidney failure, and amputations. They also experience greater disability from these complications. Some factors that influence the frequency of these complications, such as high blood glucose levels, abnormal blood lipids, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking, can be influenced by proper diabetes management.

Eye Disease

Diabetic retinopathy is a deterioration of the blood vessels in the eye that is caused by high blood glucose. It can lead to impaired vision and, ultimately, to blindness. The frequency of diabetic retinopathy is 40 percent to 50 percent higher in African Americans than in white Americans, according to NHANES III data.  Retinopathy may also occur more frequently in African Americans than in whites because of their higher rate of hypertension. Although blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy is believed to be more frequent in African Americans than in whites, there are no valid studies that compare rates of blindness between the two groups.

Kidney Failure

African Americans with diabetes experience kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD), about four times more often than diabetic white Americans. In 1995, there were 27,258 new cases of ESRD attributed to diabetes in African Americans. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and accounted for 43 percent of the new cases of ESRD among African Americans during 1992-1996. Hypertension, the second leading cause of ESRD, accounted for 42 percent of cases. In spite of their high rates of ESRD, African Americans have better survival rates after they develop kidney failure than white Americans.


Based on the U.S. hospital discharge survey, there were about 13,000 amputations among African American diabetic individuals in 1994, which involved 155,000 days in the hospital. African Americans with diabetes are much more likely to undergo a lower-extremity amputation than white or Hispanic Americans with diabetes. The hospitalization rate of amputations for African Americans was 9.3 per 1,000 patients in 1994, compared with 5.8 per 1,000 white diabetic patients. However, the average length of hospital stay was lower for African Americans (12.1 days) than for white Americans (16.5 days). More on this story..

, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Web site, provides accurate, up-to-date information on many types of diabetes, information on clinical trials, resources for people dealing with diabetes, and information for researchers and health professionals.

Digital Mammography in the 21st Century


Reported by Michael Miller
September 4, 2001

On September 4, 2001, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) launched a multicenter study to determine if digital mammography meets or exceeds capabilities, costs, benefits, and other factors, when compared to standard film mammography for the detection of breast cancer. Continue reading “Digital Mammography in the 21st Century”