Saturday, September 16, 2017

Combat Allergies, Room by Room

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

Allergies are your body’s reactions to allergens, specific items in your environment. To avoid having to deal with symptoms such as runny nose, congestion and itchy eyes, keeping your house allergen-free is the best solution.

Bedroom and Living Room

The main sources of allergens in these two rooms are animals- your pets, and dust mites.

Pet dander from many types of animal pets can cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you are one of them, keep the pets away from where you spend most of your time in the home. To sleep allergy-free, keep your bedroom door closed with the pets on the other side.

Dust mites are tiny pests that live deep inside carpets, furniture cushions, mattresses and pillows. Wall-to-wall carpet will harbor more dust mites than will smaller throw rugs. Bare floors will have the least number of dust mites. Remove dust from the floors regularly with a HEPA vacuum.

Enclose your bed and pillows in dust-proof zippered covers. Launder bedding and washable carpets in hot water weekly.

Consider getting a free-standing HEPA filter for these two rooms where you spend so much time.

And don’t forget to change the filter in your furnace/air conditioner monthly.

Bathroom, Laundry, Basement

These three rooms are usually the dampest in the house. Dampness allows mold and mildew, a very common allergen, to thrive. Check for plumbing leaks regularly in these rooms, and get them repaired immediately.

Mold likes to hide, so don’t use wallpaper in these areas; instead, paint the walls. Mold lives on soap and body oil scum, so scrub the sink, tug, tiles and grout at least monthly to get rid of it. Launder washable shower curtains with bleach or replace them regularly. Always turn on the exhaust fan when showering to remove excess moisture.

Keep the floor and all hard surfaces in the laundry clean and dry. Be sure all laundry is completely dry before folding it and putting it away. Damp fabric can promote mold growth.

If your basement is humid, consider using a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air. Seal stored items in plastic containers to keep out moisture.


Although some people have allergic reactions to various foodstuffs, scented cleaning products, and even to smoke or particles emitted by cooking food, the most common allergen in kitchens is cockroaches.

Keep your kitchen spic and span to deny the roaches a food source. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Wipe down appliances and counter tops with unscented natural cleaning products daily, and sweep the floor. Mop the kitchen floor weekly to remove all roach attractants. Never leave food or garbage uncovered. Check the refrigerator for “expired” food weekly and throw it out.

Following the above housekeeping strategies will cut down on the number of allergens in your home and make for a safer and healthier life.

Image Sources:
Dust Mite - Pixabay
Tumble Dryer - Pixabay
Dirty Kitchen - Pixabay
Allergy - Pixabay

Monday, September 11, 2017

Is Your Doctor Listening to You?

Contributing Author: Alice Krueger

Research into doctor-patient communication has shown that the average time a doctor listens to a patient before interrupting is between 12 and 23 seconds. That’s not enough time for anyone to express their concerns about their health and wellness.

What can you do to address this situation? Part of the answer lies in your preparation, and the rest in how you act while in the doctor’s office.

Before the date of the office visit, write down your concerns and questions. Update your note to yourself as more thoughts come to you that you might want to share. Prioritize everything on your list. You probably won’t have time to go through the whole set of concerns in one visit, so be sure the most important issues are addressed first.

When the doctor enters the exam room, offer a handshake and friendly short greeting. This helps make an honest human connection. Doctors generally respond well to common courtesies.

It is important that you understand everything the doctor is saying to you. Don’t hesitate to ask her to repeat what she said, or you can say it back to her in your own words and ask if that is correct. You also can ask her to put it in writing, especially is she’s using specialized terminology.

Many doctors have email accounts, so ask yours for the address where you can send questions that you think of after the appointment ends.

You always have the right to a second opinion, of diagnoses and of suggested treatments. Ask your doctor if he would recommend someone to provide a second opinion. Be suspicious if he says you don't need one, or only suggests others in his group practice.

It’s important to be honest with your doctor. Let her know if you can’t afford the suggested treatment. She may have options that would be more affordable. Also, tell her if for some reason you can’t follow her directions. If she’s recommending three sessions a week and transportation is an issue, speak up. If she says you should quit smoking, and you’re tried and failed several times before, admit it.

Last but not least, be sure your doctor is aware of your Advance Directive. Ask him if he has a copy in your file. If he’s not sure, hand him another printed copy. And then give the receptionist another copy on the way out and ask him to put it in your record.

With these preparations and actions, your doctor is more likely to hear what you have to say.

Image Source: Pixabay - Patient Care and Pixabay - Patient Care 2

Friday, September 1, 2017

September is National Yoga Month

Yoga is a mind-body exercise that combines both active (moving) and passive (held) poses and stretches with specific breathing and relaxation techniques. Yoga exercises can be done individually or as a class.

Yoga originated in India in the 6th or 5th centuries BCE as a meditative spiritual practice and philosophical discipline. Many styles or schools of yoga exist: hatha, iyengar, kundalini, bikram, etc. You will want to try different styles to see which one best meets your needs.

Simple yoga exercises are a great way to calm your nerves from daily stress.
Calm your nerves with relaxation exercises:

Yoga can stretch and strengthen muscles, and may be used as part of recreational therapy following hospitalizations.
Pain rehabilitation:

Yoga can be part of an integrated therapeutic approach to chronic pain. It allows you to have more control over your response to pain, because it is an active therapy that you can use whenever it is needed.
Integrative Approaches to Pain:
Beyond Opioids: Other options for treating chronic pain -

Yoga can even help you sleep better! It is an effective relaxation exercise to try before bedtime.
Remedies for sleep problems due to aging:

Yoga has been recommended in the treatment of health conditions as disparate as:
Your local library may have books or DVDs about yoga. You can find many articles and videos describing various yoga exercises online. Here are a few to get you started.

For more potential benefits of yoga, please see:
11 Unexpected Health-Promoting Benefits of Yoga

As with all physical activities, please check with your healthcare professional to be sure you are ready to begin doing yoga.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Humpday Hint: How Sharp is Your Hearing? As Sharp as Your Mind?

Contributing Author: Alice Krueger

Maybe you think that hearing loss is inevitable with aging. Did you know that maintaining your hearing as you age can protect your brain health?

Older adults with good hearing were found to be more mentally fit than older adults with hearing loss in research conducted around the world 1. However, the causal link between hearing loss and dementia is not yet understood 2.

In terms of quality of life, older adults who sought treatment for hearing loss had a higher level of satisfaction than those who did not 3. This may be due to improved social and emotional functioning and communication capabilities 4.

There is little to be risked by getting assessed for age-related hearing loss, and treating it has definite health benefits 5.

What are you waiting for?


  1. Davies, H. R., Cadar, D., Herbert, A., Orwell, M. & Steptoe, A. (2017). Hearing impairment and incident dementia: Findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, prepub; Deal, J. A., Betz, J., Yaffe, K., Harris, T., Purchase-Helzner, E., Satterfield, S., et al. (2017). Hearing impairment and incident dementia and cognitive decline in older adults: The Health ABC Study. The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 72(5), 703-709; Heywood, R., Gao, Q., Nyunt, M. S. Z., Feng, L., Chong, M. S., Lim, W. S., et al. (2017). Hearing loss and risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia: Findings from the Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Study. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 43(5-6), 259-268.
  2. Lin, V. Y. W. & Black, S. E. (2017). Linking deafness and dementia: Challenges and opportunities. Otology & Neurotology, 38(8), e237-e239.
  3. Manrique-Huarte, R., Calavia, D., Huarte Irujo, A., Giron, L. & Manrique-Rodriguez, M. (2016). Treatment for hearing loss among the elderly: Auditory outcomes and impact on Quality of Life. Audiology & Neuro-otology, 21 Suppl 1, 29-35; Yamada, Y., Svejdikova, B. & Kisvetrova, H. (2017). Improvement of older-person-specific QOL after hearing aid fitting and its relation to social interaction. Journal of communication disorders, 67, 14-21.
  4. Fortunate, S., Forli, F., Guglielmo, V., De Corso, E., Paludetti, G., Berrettini, S., et al. (2016). A review of new insights on the association between hearing loss and cognitive decline in ageing (in Italian). Acta Otorhinolaryngologica Italica, 36(3), 155-166.
  5. Golub, J. S. (2017). Brain changes associated with age-related hearing loss. Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head & Neck Surgery, prepub.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 28, 2017

Psoriasis: More Than Skin Deep

Contributing Author: Alice Krueger

Visibly, psoriasis is an itchy skin condition with sore red patches of thickened dry skin, called plaques. These plaques occur most often on the scalp, face, elbows, palms, back, knees and feet. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which the patient’s body attacks healthy skin cells, causing inflammation that leads to changes in skin structure and function.

Psoriasis is an unpredictable condition. Some people have remissions lasting several months without symptoms. Flares of increased symptoms seem to happen without warning and can be any severity level. Flares can be caused by stress, cold weather, dry skin, colds and respiratory infections, and smoking.

There is no known cure for psoriasis; treatment is symptomatic, striving to slow down the growth of skin cells. Topical treatments are the first intervention to be prescribed. These can be over-the-counter items (lotions containing salicylic acid or coal tar to cause skin shedding, or lotions containing aloe vera or jojoba to moisturize the skin) or by prescription. Nonsteroidal topical prescriptions containing synthetic vitamin A or D3 slow the production of skin cells. Corticosteroid prescriptions can thin the skin.

Biologic drugs for psoriasis are derived from live cell cultures and are administered by injection or IV. They block the action of the immune system that is overactive and misdirected in psoriasis. Phototherapy focuses UV or laser light on affected skin areas. Systemic medications, usually reserved for people with moderate or severe psoriasis, are taken in pill form or by injection. They work throughout the body, not just at the site of the psoriasis.

Psoriasis is associated with common symptoms of emotional distress, including sleep disorders and general anxiety 1. This indicates a lowered quality of life. The National Psoriasis Foundation states that 24% of people with psoriasis also have depression 2, which can lead to numerous other health and wellness issues. Young adults with psoriasis are at increased risk for suicide 3, especially if it causes them significant emotional distress, impairs their daily activities, causes them to have a negative body image or creates difficulty in establishing or maintaining close relationships.

Other serious health issues may be related to psoriasis. Although it is not clear which is cause and which is effect, metabolic syndrome is found in 40% of persons with psoriasis 4 while only 21% of the general population has this set of health problems. Metabolic syndrome is indicated by high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, high blood sugar, and too much fat around the waist. The increased risk of persons with psoriasis having metabolic syndrome may explain their increased risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer.

The link between psoriasis and cardiovascular disease seems to lie in the inflammatory response 5. Inflammation can damage blood vessels, resulting in the formation of plaques (not the same kind as psoriasis plaques) in arteries leading to the heart. This can result in heart attacks or strokes.

People with psoriasis whose treatment included biological agents or methotrexate had lower rates of cardiovascular disease than did those with other treatment regimens 6. This might be due to systemic treatments reducing proteins that signal inflammation.

The direction of the relationship between obesity and psoriasis is unclear, and there is little evidence that diet affects psoriasis. However, a study showed that obesity increases both the risk of getting cardiovascular disease and of having psoriasis 7. Therefore it is doubly important to eat a healthy diet if you have psoriasis.

A study in the UK found an increased risk for psoriasis patients to get lymphoma, non-melanoma skin cancer and other cancers 8. The cancer risk seemed highest for those who received systemic treatments (e.g., phototherapy or methotrexate). It is important for persons with psoriasis to avoid risk behaviors that can lead to cancers, including smoking, excessive sun exposure, and alcohol abuse.

If you have psoriasis, it is wise to keep up with regular screenings for other health conditions, including depression. Ask your dermatologist to help you create a preventive program based on your medical history and additional risk factors.

To learn more about psoriasis during the month of August, visit the exhibit on Healthinfo Island in Second Life (SLURL: ).


  1. Pärna, E., Aluoja, A. & Kingo, K. (2015). Quality of life and emotional state in chronic skin disease. Acta Dermato-Venereologica, 95(3), 312-316.
  2. Kimball, A. B., Gladman, D., Gelfand, J. M., Gordon, K., Horn, E. J., Korman, N. J., et al. (2008). National Psoriasis Foundation clinical consensus on psoriasis co-morbidities and recommendations for screening. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 58(6), 1031-1042.
  3. Picardi, A., Lega, I. & Tarolla, E. (2013). Suicide risk in skin disorders. Clinics in Dermatology, 31(1), 47-56.
  4. Love, T. J., Qureshi, A. A., Karlson, E. W., et al. (2011). Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in psoriasis: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2006. JAMA Dermatology, 147(4), 419-424.
  5. Gu, W.-J., Weng, C.-L., Zhao, Y.-T., Liu, Q.-H. & Yin, R.-X. (2013). Psoriasis and risk of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis of cohort studies. International Journal of Cardiology, 168(5), 4992–4996.
  6. Aheloff, O., Skov, L., Gislason, G., Lindhardsen, J., Kristensen, S. L., Iversen, L., et al. (2012). Cardiovascular disease event rates in patients with severe psoriasis treated with systemic anti-inflammatory drugs: A Danish real-world cohort study. Journal of Internal Medicine, 273(2), 197-204.
  7. Carrascosa, J. M., Rocamora, V., Fernandez-Torres, R. M., Jimenez-Puya, R., Moreno, J. C., Coll-Puigserver, N., et al. (2014). Obesity and psoriasis: Inflammatory nature of obesity, relationship between psoriasis and obesity, and therapeutic implications (in Spanish). Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas, 105(1), 31-44.
  8. Fuxench, Z. C. C., Shin, D. B., Beatty, A. O. & Gelfand, J. M. (2016). The risk of cancer in patients with psoriasis: A population-based cohort study in the Health Improvement Network. JAMA Dermatology, 152(3), 282-290.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Friday, August 25, 2017

Virtual Ability Works With Other Nonprofits in Virtual Worlds

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

Virtual Ability, Inc.® was the first organization that began as a Second Life® community and then became a legally chartered nonprofit corporation. At the time the Virtual Ability community was forming in Second Life, a wide variety of nonprofit corporations from the physical world were coming into Second Life to do awareness, outreach, and fundraising. They formed a group called NonProfit Commons, sponsored at that time by TechSoup®. Virtual Ability became an early active corporate member of the NonProfit Commons (NPC) group in Second Life.

In addition to attending weekly meetings (Friday mornings at 8:30am Pacific), Virtual Ability members have given presentations, greeted newcomers to the NPC, mentored about virtual worlds and nonprofit functioning, and assisted several Second Life groups to apply for nonprofit tax status.

The mission of the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life is to create a community of practice for nonprofits and those doing social-good, cause-based work to explore and learn about virtual worlds, foster connections, and discover the many ways in which nonprofits might utilize these unique environments to achieve their missions. NonProfit Commons is now peer governed and funded.

This Friday, August 25, NonProfit Commons is celebrating its tenth anniversary in Second Life. Find out more about NPC's history at or join the parties at 8:30am or 5pm Pacific in the NPC Amphitheater on Plush* (SLURL: ) in Second Life.

Please email any questions about NonProfit Commons to

Editor's Note: Plush is a virtual location in Second Life with a special kind of link to get there. You will need to create an account and an avatar to use in the environment. If you are entering Second Life for the first time, visit this page to get started.

Image Credit: Rhiannon Chatnoir

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Humpday Hint: Sweets? On a DIET??

Yes, you can eat sweets when you are dieting. You can either limit yourself to a 75-calorie sweet every day, or save up the calories to splurge on one large sweet on the weekend.

What sweet treat contains fewer than 75 calories?
  • A medium apple or peach
  • Half a banana
  • A cup of raspberries
  • Half a grapefruit
  • Root beer float (diet soda over ¼ cup light ice cream)
  • About 1 ½ Tbsp of many types of granola
  • 30 sugar-free jellybeans
  • 5 flavored mini rice cakes
  • 1 cup fat-free hot cocoa
  • 1 block (3 squares) dark chocolate

Here are some other sources of ideas for low-calorie snacks:

88 Unexpected Snacks Under 100 Calories
20 Sweet Snacks for 50 Calories or Less/
30 Healthy Snacks with 75 Calories or Less (With Recipes)
Healthy Snacks Under 75 Calories
7 Bedtime Treats Under 75 Calories

YES! (Dark) Chocolate is allowed!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Four Things to Do to Keep Your Skin Healthy

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

Summer is not the only time of year we should be mindful of taking good care of the vessels of our intellects and personalities. Without further ado...

1. Avoid sun overexposure.
The sun is the leading cause of all kinds of skin damage, from sunburn to wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer. It’s the ultraviolet radiation emitted by our sun that damages the skin. UV rays break down the collagen and elastin in skin; these chemicals keep your skin plump and smooth. When collagen and elastin decrease in skin, the skin becomes wrinkled.

Sunlight also enlarges melanocytes, pigment-containing cells. A smaller dose of sun may make your skin tan, but larger amounts can lead to patches of brown spots called age spots.

Another thing the sun does to your skin is release free radicals. These are harmful chemicals, unstable atoms, often oxygen, that have an unpaired electron. This imbalance in electric charge makes the free radicals highly chemically reactive. Free radicals can damage DNA, and this can lead to aging of body systems and development of skin cancers. (NOTE: Free radicals are also created by smoking and other environmental factors.)

The best way to avoid sun damage to skin is to avoid overexposure. Stay out of the sun during mid-day when the radiation is strongest. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB and has an SPF (sun protective factor) 30 or greater. Apply sunscreen every two hours; more frequently if you are sweating heavily or in water. You should also wear protective clothing and a hat to protect your scalp and face.

While some skin care products contain antioxidant ingredients to help fight the effects of free radicals, the best defense is to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables containing vitamins C and E. Good dietary sources of antioxidants include berries, carrots, spinach and broccoli.

2. Stop making faces.

Did your mother say, “Stop making the face or it will grow like that!” when you scowled? Mine did. Maybe our Moms were right. While smiling and frowning are ways we communicate, these movements stretch the skin. As we age, our skin becomes less elastic and does not snap back into shape as readily as when we were younger. Compounded with the loss of elasticity produced by sun damage to skin, facial movements can lead to the formation of wrinkles.

3. Don’t smoke, or quit smoking.

Did you know that smoking damages skin as well as lungs? Smoker’s skin doesn’t heal from small injuries such as nicks and pimples as well as non-smoker’s skin does. This is because smoking causes blood vessels to narrow, restricting the availability of oxygen and nutrients that the skin needs to nourish and repair itself.

Smoker’s skin wrinkles more easily that non-smoker’s skin. Smoking causes elastic skin fibers to thicken, which will increase sagging. The more you smoke, the worse the damage to your skin.

Please consider not smoking, or quitting if you do smoke. It will not only benefit your lungs, it will help your skin stay healthier.

4. Avoid skin irritants.

Your skin can be sensitive or allergic to any number of chemicals, including ammonia, bleach, laundry detergent, and cleaning products. Contact dermatitis is reddening and scaling of the skin. But some people experience burns from contact with these chemicals.

The best way to protect your skin from irritants is to avoid them, for instance by wearing gloves to clean house or wash dishes. If you have mild contact dermatitis, moisturizing your skin will make it feel better. If you have more problematic irritations, try using an antihistamine or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen). If the problem is severe, please contact your healthcare professional.

It is always a good idea to take care of the skin you're in!

Image Credits: Pixabay

Friday, August 18, 2017

Get a Home Energy Audit

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

With autumn approaching soon, it is not too early to start thinking about ways to improve your home's heating efficiency as outside temperatures begin to drop - or rise, depending on in which hemisphere of the planet you live.

Often your local utility company will come out to your home and perform an energy audit. This is probably the most accurate way to learn how to use energy efficiently. However, it will mean scheduling the visit for several hours during the workday, and this may not be feasible for your schedule.

An alternative is the online energy audit. You will spend a few minutes inputting data, and in return will receive valuable information about your energy usage.

Several sites offer these audits. Many local utilities will add in local weather and housing data, making them quite accurate.

You can also check out the US Department of Energy’s Home Energy Saver site at: This site helps you calculate your energy usage based on your ZIP code. It also includes several videos of energy saving projects such as insulating your water heater and hot water pipes, as well as interesting blog posts.

Another online energy audit option from is found here: Not only will you learn how to look for areas in your home where you are losing energy, but you will be offered methods for improving the building’s energy efficiency.

Beware, though, of advertising sites that want to collect your personal information. If an offer related to energy audits or energy savings seems too good to be true, it probably is. Use only sites from your local utility companies, universities, or government agencies.

Editor's Note: While the above links are for US consumers, many countries have corresponding services available to their citizens. Be sure to seek them out.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Humpday Hint: Staying Safe on Social Media

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

Why should you think about social media safety? Two main reasons are the potential for identity theft and the large number of existing social media scams.

Probably the most important advice on how to stay safe on social media is to set your profiles to “Private” and restrict contacts to people you know personally. Don’t accept random friend requests.

Be especially careful of people you meet through social media sites who offer you something you want or need, such as romance or a cure for your incurable disease or easy money. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Avoid clicking links unless you know the person sending the link and the reason they are sending it to you. Otherwise you may end up downloading malware onto your computer.

It’s best not to respond to “limited time offers.” That’s a common sales technique to get you to spend money you might not have spent if you had more time to consider the offer

Don’t overshare personal information. You don’t have to fill out all the blanks on your social media profile. Nobody needs to know your home address or phone number. Also, don’t give out account information. Ever!

Editor's Note: You only need to fill in those fields that are required in your social profile (they are usually marked with a red asterisk, like this: *)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Budgets, Money and (Maybe) Peace of Mind

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

Although everyone ought to work from a budget, how their budget is made is up to each individual. Some people keep a paper budget, others use a spreadsh
eet or app. Below are six different types of budgets, who they work best for, how they work, and a resource to start from.

Envelope Budget
This works best for people who need to control their spending, people who are very visual, or people who deal mainly in cash.

What you do is create sturdy envelopes labeled with spending categories (e.g., rent, utilities, groceries, medicine, transportation, eating out, entertainment). Put the amount you will spend for the coming month into the envelope at the beginning of the month. When the envelope is empty, you have to stop spending in that category.

This budget type also works with other budget types. If you know you tend to overspend in certain areas (such as fast food or movie rentals), you may only need an envelope for particular categories.

This budget type also works virtually. Check out the app Goodbudget which is available on the web or for Android or iPhone.

For simple record keeping based on receipts, try Wally for iPhone or Wally+ for Android:

50/30/20 Budget
This budget method may be the best for you if you are just beginning to use a budget.

It’s simple. You divide your monthly income into three pieces: half (50%) should go to meet your needs. That means rent, utilities, groceries, medicine, and transportation. About a third (30%) will be for “wants” which includes eating out and entertainment, but also things like your cell phone and cable plans and new clothes. The remainder (20%) should be used to pay off debts and add to your savings. Think of this smallest portion as how you’re going to eventually get ahead financially.

For more information about this budget type, and information about its flexibility, please see this article:

Need help figuring out how much for each category? Look half way down this page:

Bottom-Up Budget
This is the budget type most useful for people with large fixed expenses, and anyone trying to understand their spending pattern better.

When you have large medical or child care expenses, or a mortgage, you can’t really cut back on that area of spending. Your budget should begin by acknowledging the actual costs of your daily expenses in these categories. The remaining categories are where you can economize, and that amount can go toward savings.

Personal Capital offers a free mobile app that may help with bottom-up budgeting.

Top-Down Budget
The opposite of bottom-up budgeting, this budget style works best for people with a strong savings ethic and specific saving goal, who are able to look at the future as a “big picture.”

This type of budgeting is like the 50/30/20 budget, but you set your own categories and percentages, based on your financial goals and future plans. It takes personal discipline to make this budget plan work.

Zero-Sum Budget
This budgeting style requires frequent oversight. It’s best for very detail-oriented people.

The idea is to “pay yourself first,” by setting money aside for your saving goals or to pay down your debt. After that, you allocate the remainder of your monthly income to your expenses, until nothing remains. Some people say this is like “giving every dollar a job.”

Consider using a mobile app like You Need A Budget to achieve your goals using this style of budgeting.

Reverse Budget
This budget is not for everyone; it works best for people who already have a financial safety cushion, who are experienced at using a budget, and who have specific savings goals.

Reverse budgeting is similar to zero-sum budgeting because you pay yourself first toward your saving goals. After that, you do away with categorical spending and just pay for everything else as it comes along, knowing that the amount needed for each category will change month to month.

An app like Qapital can help with this advanced type of budgeting.

What happens when you don’t keep a budget?
A study by Bankrate found that about 20% of Americans says they budget “in their heads,” which often means “not at all.” This might partly explain why the majority of Americans can’t dip into savings to cover a small ($1000) unexpected expense, let alone a catastrophic financial need.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Friday, August 11, 2017

Displays on Healthinfo Island for August 2017

Healthinfo Island Exhibits and Displays for August 2017
Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

The Virtual Ability community learn and share information. The displays listed below are themed to provide timely information and resources to all interested.
All locations are given as links, but are found in the Second Life® virtual environment. If you are entering Second Life for the first time, visit this page to get started.

Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island

August is Eye Health & Amblyopia Month

Other exhibits and displays on Healthinfo Island during August:

Mental Health Awareness

August is Immunization Awareness Month

August is Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month

August is Psoriasis Awareness Month

Celebrating Nurses (remaining from May)



Click the title poster of the exhibit or display to get a full text notecard. Click each poster for live links and text chat.

Thanks to Mook Wheeler for creating new exhibit and display materials for Healthinfo Island.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Humpday Hint: Summertime Allergies

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

Many people cope with various allergies throughout the year. In summer, as in spring, allergies seem to

Grasses produce pollen several times throughout the summer. Levels of grass pollen are highest during the warmest weather. If you go outside during the summer, you will likely have grass pollen clinging to your hair, skin, clothing and shoes when you come inside. Therefore, if you are allergic to grass pollen, take off your shoes at the door to avoid tracking pollen all over the carpet. Take a shower and put your clothing in the wash as soon as possible.

The best allergy strategy for summertime: Protect yourself as you would from the effects of the sun. When outside, wear a hat, sunglasses, shirt with long sleeves, and long pants.

Read more about summer allergy triggers here:

Image Credit: Pixabay

Monday, August 7, 2017

Tips for Staying Hydrated

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

This post is especially timely given the very high temperatures seen in much of Europe lately and in other parts of the world this year.

Water makes up 60% of your body weight. You lose water through sweating, breathing, urination and bowel movements. In warm weather or cool, getting adequate hydration is critical to maintaining your body’s store of this essential fluid. Here are some tips for improving your hydration:

• Start the day right. Drink a glass of water first thing each morning.
• Nutritionists recommend adults drink 7-9 cups of fluids daily. In addition to plain water, unsweetened coffee or tea, skim milk, broth-based soups and 100% fruit or vegetable juices count. Do you know how many cups you drink? Keep a diary!
• Another way to keep track of your intake is to measure out 8 cups (2 quarts, or 1/2 gallon) of water in the morning, and drink it throughout the day.
• Improve plain water. Don’t be boring. Add sliced fresh fruit to your glass (or to a cup of hot tea). Freeze fruit slices and use instead of ice cubes.
• Water-filled low-calorie snacks are good. Try celery sticks, sliced cucumbers, and strips of colorful bell peppers.
• Read the labels of beverages you purchase. Even clear-colored specialty waters may contain artificial ingredients, added calories, or caffeine that you do not want in your diet.
• Don’t confuse hunger with thirst. If you feel hungry, especially if you have eaten in the previous couple of hours, drink a glass of water, then wait 10 minutes. You probably weren’t hungry after all, just confusing the signals for thirst and hunger.
• You will need more water if you are overheated, working hard or exercising heavily.
• You will also need more water if you are older, because your ability to detect thirst decreases as you age.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Friday, August 4, 2017

Power Strips and Surge Protectors

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

Sometimes it feels as if our plug-in electronic devices have taken over our lives. There just don’t seem to be enough outlets in most homes to accommodate them all. We use power strips and surge protectors as outlet expanders. Both plug into a wall socket and then offer multiple outlets for a variety of your electronic devices.

For both power strips and surge protectors, you should know the amperage rating of the outlet you are plugging them into. This will keep you from overloading your home’s electric circuits.

When purchasing either a power strip or a surge protector, look carefully at the orientation of the outlets on it. Usually you will want the outlets to be perpendicular to the length of the strip.

Power strips are the simpler of these two tools, and generally are less expensive. Be sure the one you use has a circuit breaker built in. If you connect too many electric devices to the power strip, it will kick the built-in circuit breaker rather than the one in the electric panel.

Surge protectors are the more expensive of these two tools, because they have additional protections built in. These protections are particularly important for home entertainment equipment and computers. Your more expensive electronics should be protected from sudden spikes of electric current that can come through any wired connection, such as from a lightning strike. Be sure that the surge protector you use offers both cable and internet protection. Check that it can handle digital television; if the surge protector is designed for analog signals, this could result in pixelation.

Check that your surge protector has a significant joule rating. Joules are a measure of how much energy the surge protector can withstand. It should also have an indicator light to show when the protection has burned out.

For both power strips and surge protectors, remember the old maxim: “You get what you pay for.” The most inexpensive products will not give your electronic devices the protection they need.

For more information on surge protectors:

Image Credit: Pixabay

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Humpday Hint: Use Your Microwave Oven Safely

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

To understand how to safely cook food (and even heat water) in a microwave oven, it helps to understand a little about how they work. Microwaves are a form of radio waves that easily penetrate most materials, including food. These waves vibrate at a specific set of frequencies designed to agitate water molecules. All food contains water, to lesser or greater extent. When the water molecules in food are agitated, they vibrate, creating heat.

One of the advantages you’ll hear about microwave cooking is that it heats food faster than it can heat up in a conventional oven. This is true. The heat radiation in a regular oven must penetrate foods from the outside toward the center. This can sometimes leave the outside of food overheated or burnt while the center is undercooked or raw. Not so in a microwave, where the radiation penetrates immediately to the very center. This means all portions of the food, exterior and interior, cook at the same rate.

Another advantage of microwave cooking is that it does not heat the container. That’s because ceramics, glass and plastic do not contain water. Therefore there’s nothing in them to heat up in a microwave. In a regular oven, the food container also has to be heated up, making for a longer cooking time.

Then why do the dishes microwave food is cooked in sometimes feel hot? That’s heat warming them up from the hot food they contain. Always use oven mitts when handling containers of food that has been microwaved.

OK, if microwaves are so good at penetrating materials, why doesn’t the radiation escape from the microwave box and heat you up as you stand next to it? That’s because this type of radiation does not penetrate metal; it is reflected by it. The body of the microwave oven and its door is designed to contain the microwaves so none escape into the kitchen. If the door does not close and seal properly, or the body of the microwave is damaged in any way, do not use it. Replace or repair it.

You also will not want to use metal containers in the microwave. Also, be sure to check that any plastic, glass or ceramic container you intend to cook in is rated for microwave use.

Something you may not know: plain water can get overheated and explode in the microwave, or worse, in your face when you retrieve the cup. The easy way to avoid this is to either add the instant coffee or teabag or sugar before heating the water in the microwave, or if you’re not heating the water for a beverage, put a wooden spoon or stir stick in the container with the water. These simple steps will totally eliminate the small chance of overheating the water.

As with an electrical device, be sure you read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions and cautions before you use your microwave.

For an explanation of how microwave ovens work:

For an explanation of “superheated water” in a microwave:

Image credit: La_Petite_Femme, Pixabay

Monday, July 31, 2017

Reading Recommendation: "The Mark of the Lion"

Contributing Author: Ava Tresor

I like my books like I like my movies; heaps of history and romance! My favorite book series is written by Francine Rivers and is titled “Mark of the Lion”. The collection is based on life from the perspective of a slave girl named Hadassah living under the harsh rule of the Roman Empire in AD 117.

The series begins with Hadassah living in her homeland, Israel, trying to stay alive while watching Rome destroy her community and all that she has ever known. Her desperate attempt to remain a free Hebrew child does not last very long before she was sold to a Roman family in Europe. Her life changes drastically in her unfamiliar surroundings and for the next three books, Hadassah takes the reader on a horrific yet inspiring journey into a whole new world.

I highly recommend this series for anyone but especially those that are interested in historical events, characters, religion, passion, war, and love.

Image credit: Pixabay

Editor's Note: If you are working through a summer reading list, perhaps you would like to share your thoughts on something you read recently? Contact Gentle Heron in world; she will pass along your writeup for iSkye to publish on this blog. Inquiring minds want to know what our community members have been reading this summer. The more contributions, the better!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Virtual Ability at SL14B

The 14th Birthday of Second Life® is celebrated by everyone on the grid, and everyone is welcome to join the party which runs from the 18th through the 25th of June. It's a "Carnivalesque" themed week filled with music, art, presentations, meeting Lindens, dancing, gifts and all sorts of hilarity!

If you have a Second Life account, you can go to the links provided in the text below; if you have never been to Second Life, you can sign up through Virtual Ability's website. Follow the steps to get your avatar, go through the orientation to get the basics of navigating in Second Life, then follow the links below and at the SL14B website to experience the party.

Virtual Ability has an exhibit there! It is enjoyable to visit, various things to interact with - getting popcorn, popping balloons by throwing darts, other fun things. It also shares information about why some people are not able to fully participate in celebrations, raising awareness and reminding folks to be mindful of that. Stop by there if you get a chance!
The SL14B website is filled with information and links to the various spots of interest. Pssst...some Virtual Ability members built exhibits there, are performing, giving presentations... you can look through the full list of exhibitors and performers to find them. Don't forget to grab the gifts at the exhibits while you're there - there will be presents galore, and many exhibitors are participating in the SL14Big Hunt as well. Don't miss seeing these, enjoy the creativity and this special event!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Humpday Hint: "Never Say Never Again" A Healthy Internal Dialogue

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

Three words can put too much pressure on you: “never,” “always,” and “must.”

When you set your life change goals, using these words does not allow flexibility.

While you may think “I will never eat a candy bar again” is a reasonable diet goal, it will make you feel too guilty about an occasional lapse. Leave room for a treat once in a while.

“I will always have only a small salad for lunch” can be set aside when your best friend from college visits for a day.

“I must not eat dessert with dinner” is too restrictive if your family is having a reunion picnic.

Try to avoid using those three dangerous words in your internal dialogue.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Where Do I Go to Complain?

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

The answer is, “It depends on what you are complaining about.”

If a roofing contractor is going door to door in your neighborhood after a storm, or if someone is walking around knocking on doors and soliciting, you should call your local police to report the incident. You can also report it to your state attorney general.

Various federal agencies deal with specific types of scams and frauds. The FBI, for instance, runs the Internet Crime Complaint Center. While it does not itself conduct investigations of claims, it refers them to the appropriate agencies. If you receive a phishing email or your computer is hacked or you are approached over the internet with a fraudulent scheme, this is where you would report it.

If the scam is conducted by postal mail, such as chain letters or fake sweepstakes “winner” announcements, report it to the Postal Inspection Service. This is also where you would report mail theft.

You will want to list your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. After your number has been on the list for 31 days, if you continue receiving unsolicited phone sales calls, you can report them. However, calls from survey firms, debt collectors, and registered charities are exempt from Do Not Call restrictions.

Report identity theft, romance scams, unwanted telemarketing, malware concerns, work-at-home schemes, abusive debt collectors and other types of fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. Your information will be pooled with other complaints to build a case against con artists. You should also report fraud to your state attorney general and local police.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau intercedes on your behalf with companies that provide financial services, credit reports and payment cards.

Your credit card company or bank is where you would report lost or stolen cards (credit, debit, or ATM) as well as fraudulent use of the cards. Make a copy of the fronts and backs of all such cards, and keep it in a safe place. Contact information is usually on the card itself.

Graphic by iSkye Silverweb

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mental Health Symposium Opens

The Virtual Ability community in Second Life invites you to join us for our sixth annual Mental Health Symposium. It will be held on Saturday, May 27, beginning at 6am Pacific (9am Eastern), and continuing through 5:30pm Pacific (8:30pm Eastern). This year's conference theme is "I can relate to that." It is free and open to the public. The Symposium takes place in Virtual Ability’s The Sojourner Auditorium, on Virtual Ability island. The SLURL for the auditorium is:

Our international group of presenters offers a wide interpretation of the theme, based on their interests and academic backgrounds. Attendees will learn ways to promote mental health for themselves and their families, how diet affects mental health, and how first responders and medical clinicians can improve their own mental health.

Below is the full schedule for the conference. Please note that SLT is US Pacific Daylight Time.
6:00am SLT
Tracy Burrows “Diet, Nutrition and Food Addiction”
7:30am SLT
Sarah Henderson and Kristin Klimley “First Responder Mental Health: The Importance of Training and Intervention”
9:00am SLT
Joel Edman “Nutritional and Holistic Approaches to Stomach and Intestinal Disorders: Practical guidelines that can also be helpful for chronic and/or complex health issues”
10:30am SLT
Join us on selection of tours of SL sites related to mental health in Second Life
Noon SLT
Ian Colman “Mental health promotion - What can you do for you and your loved ones?”
1:30pm SLT
Karen Davison “Bridging the Divide: Exploring research in nutrition, mental health and food security”
3pm SLT
Diana Anderson “Virtual Windows: Design solutions to improve the mental health of clinical staff”
4:30pm SLT
Namaara MacMoragh "Mental Health Following Brain Injury"

If you are unable to attend the conference inworld you can view the live stream here:

Friday, May 26, 2017

MHS Spotlight: Namaara McMoragh

The final speaker for the sixth annual Mental Health Symposium hosted by Virtual Ability, Inc.® on Saturday the 27th of May, with the theme, "I can relate to that" will be Namaara McMoragh. Be sure and attend as many sessions as you can; the conference is free and open to the public.

Namaara MacMoragh is the avatar of Gloria Kraegel. Ms. Kraegel has been a nonprofit consultant for 30 years and is currently the Executive Director of the Brain Energy Support Team, an organization created by, and for, those with brain injury and their families. She is also the owner of Etopia EcoCommunity Sims in Second Life and blends the virtual and physical worlds to provide education and social opportunities that build community and showcase the potential of cooperative and interdependent living.

Ms. Kraegel’s presentation, titled “Mental Health After Brain Injury,” will begin at 4:30pm US Pacific (7:30pm US Eastern). Brain injury is not a mental illness even when behavioral issues and mood changes are manifest. All too often the medications used to treat chemical imbalances in the brain do not work to treat physical changes due to an injury. This presentation will share information about brain injury and how to create good mental health for yourself and with your health care team.

You can see the full schedule in this previous post or inworld just outside The Sojourner Auditorium.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The month of May has traditionally been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month. In addition to hosting the annual Mental Health Symposium, a free professional conference open to the general public (full schedule here), the Virtual Ability community posts exhibits and displays related to mental health on its Healthinfo Island.

A major display for Mental Health Awareness Month may be found here:

Another display about Brain Injury and Mental Health can be viewed here:

An exhibit on Bipolar Disorder is seen here:

Click the title poster of the exhibit or display to get a full text notecard. Click each poster for live links and text chat.

Other exhibits and displays on Healthinfo Island during May include:

Thanks to Mook Wheeler and Namaara MacMoragh for creating these exhibit and display materials for Healthinfo Island.

An additional resource available on Healthinfo Island is the Path of Support. The Path is bordered by posters representing over 120 peer support groups available in Second Life for individuals with disabilities and chronic health conditions. Numerous groups are available to support individuals with mental health issues. Click a poster and you will receive information about the group and how to join it.

Virtual Ability maintains Healthinfo Island as a health and wellness resource for the entire Second Life population. Please visit there soon to see what is available.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

MHS Special Spotlights: First Responder Mental Health and Mini-Tours

Today We feature two more speakers we have invited to present at the sixth annual Mental Health Symposium on Saturday the 27th of May, with the theme, "I can relate to that." We hope you will find these topics of great interest and mark your calendar to attend the symposium. We also have something new this year, mini-tours of three SL locations of interest in the topic of mental health.

First Responder Mental Health: The Importance of Training and Intervention
Sarah Henderson, MS, and Kristin Klimley, BS, present “First Responder Mental Health: The Importance of Training and Intervention” at 7:30am US Pacific time. This presentation will explore a variety of topics related to first responders and mental health. These include: background of the culture, research findings, and interventions. Additionally, this presentation will discuss police officer crisis intervention team (CIT) training and its benefits to the community.

Sarah N. Henderson is a fourth year clinical psychology doctoral candidate at Nova Southeastern University. Her research has focused on behavioral health issues in first responders, particularly the effects of post-traumatic stress on physical health conditions. Ms. Henderson has published several articles related to stress and suicide within the fire service and co-created a number of behavioral health programs within Broward Sheriff’s Office Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services. Ms. Henderson is also a co-coordinator of the Family Violence Program, under Dr. Van Hasselt.

Kristin Klimley is a second year clinical psychology doctoral student at Nova Southeastern University, hoping to specialize in trauma and police psychology. Ms. Klimley is the Research Coordinator for Dr. Van Hasselt’s Police Psychology Research and Training Team, as well as a Nova Players Coordinator working with various hostage negotiation teams in South Florida. Ms. Klimley is engaged in research with various first responder populations including law enforcement, emergency dispatchers, firefighters, and correctional staff.

Mini Tours of SL Mental Health Sites
Something new for the Mental Health Symposium this year is a trio of mini-tours of virtual world sites devoted to information in different formats about mental health issues. You can attend one, two, or all three of the tours, as your schedule permits.

Each tour lasts 20 minutes, and will leave every half hour (10:30, 11 and 11:30am US Pacific time (1:30, 2 and 2:30pm US Eastern time) from the Symposium site in The Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability island. You will return to the Auditorium between tours to join a different tour group. All tours will be conducted simultaneously in voice+text for full accessibility.

1) Virtual Hallucinations is an activity set in a mental health clinic. It’s an opportunity to experience life as a person with schizophrenia. After a group introduction outside the clinic, tour participants will enter and go through one at a time.

WARNING: This is an immersive tour, with known “triggers.” Some people may find it disturbing and overwhelming.

This tour will be led by Em Warrior. Em lives in Canada in real life, but is everywhere in SL. She came to SL over 11 years ago. As she is deaf, SL is a great social media format for her. She has also learned many things - to build and hostess events including live musical events. She’s met a lot of great people from all over the world in SL, which has helped her understanding of geography. If you're curious about anything else, feel free to ask.

Em’s “voice” for the tour will be Eme Capalini, Vice President of Development for Virtual Ability, Inc. A native of Texas, she has worked on numerous VAI development projects with researchers from different universities and government agencies. One of the projects Eme worked on with the US military was AVESS, the Amputee Virtual Environment Support Space. She also just completed a project involving the use of avatars to teach new amputees to use their prostheses.

2) Ethnographia is part of a research project, "Virtual Worlds, Disability, and New Cultures of the Embodied Self." This project has two Principal Investigators, Professor Tom Boellstorff (University of California, Irvine) and Professor Donna Z. Davis (University of Oregon). It is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Persons with disabilities create studio spaces on the dedicated islands, and use art to explain how they have used Second Life to change their experiences living with a disability.

Jadyn Firehawk is a medically retired professor from the University of Texas at Austin, who used to conduct research in Yosemite National Park. An award-winning builder, she is owner of Maganda Arts and Yosemite in Second Life. She is the founder and director of the Pixel To Pixel Foundation, which assists people in Second Life who are on disability.

Jadyn has created an Ethnographia exhibit telling the story of how she become disabled, struggled with mental illness, and how her experiences in a virtual world have helped her rebuild a sense of identity in the years ever since. The title of her exhibit is “Reconstructing Identity After Disability: A 'Build Biography'.” This is another immersive experience.

3) Whole Brain Health is an effort in Second Life supported by the nonprofit Ageless Mind Project (http://agelessmindproject/org). On Inspiration Island in Second Life, you’ll find information and activities to promote mental health and self-care. The community has a special focus on wellness of persons over the age of 50.

The tour group will stay within the Multiple Intelligences Experience (MIE) area of Inspiration Island. After a brief explanation of the focus of Whole Brain Health and its relation to promoting mental health in seniors, visitors can explore the MIE. The tour will end with a brief Q and A.

The 10:30am SLT tour will be led by Lissena (aka Wisdomseeker). She is the co-founder of the Ageless Mind Project, based on New York State, and the Director of Whole Brain Health in Second Life. She has been a clinical social worker for 35 years, with special training in an evidence-based multi-dimensional approach to brain wellness. She is the owner of Inspiration Island, where over 30 Collective members offer programs and activities that promote brain health and total well-being

The 11am and 11:30am tours will be led by Ewan Bonham (Scott Anstadt in the physical world), a retired faculty in Social Work. One area of research and publication while he was teaching was the use of virtual reality to enhance exposure to diverse world cultures and spiritual orientations. Since the conception of Whole Brain Health team, he has provided opportunities for resident explorations throughout Second Life to explore its vast resources. To assist in this endeavor, he developed the Community Cultural Teleportation Hub, and facilitated a variety of interactive groups including the current Transcendent Activation mindful meditation practices.

The full schedule for the symposium hosted by Virtual Ability, Inc.®, can be seen in this previous post. It is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MHS Speaker Spotlights

We feature two more speakers we have invited to present at the sixth annual Mental Health Symposium on Saturday the 27th of May, with the theme, "I can relate to that." We hope you will find these topics of great interest and mark your calendar to attend the symposium.

Diana Anderson, MD, M.Arch, is a board-certified healthcare architect with the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA) and a board-certified physician through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). As a “dochitect”, Dr. Anderson combines educational and professional experience in both medicine and architecture, in order to fully understand the medical planning of healthcare environments. She has worked on hospital design projects within the United States, Canada and Australia. A frequent speaker about the impacts of healthcare design on patient outcomes, clinician wellness, and care delivery, Dr. Anderson is currently a Human Experience Lab Fellow at Perkins+Will Architects, and co-founder of the Clinicians for Design group.

Virtual Windows: Design solutions to improve the mental health of clinical staff" is the title of Dr. Anderson’s presentation, beginning at 3:00pm US Pacific time. Although recent versions of design guidelines for healthcare facility construction provide minimum standards for patient rooms to have windows, no guidelines currently exist to ensure clinical staff areas have access to light or views, whether real or virtual. Recent studies have shown that physicians-in-training experience high rates of burnout and depression. Can design of the environment soften the metaphor of the hospital as a battleground for trainees?

Views and images, either real or virtual, should be considered just as important for the clinical staff as they are for patients. Although newer buildings may emphasize a narrower floor-plate to maximize this window access, many older facilities maintain deeper floor plans required for diagnostic and procedural programs where light may be difficult to capture. In these cases the provision for virtual windows or views would be beneficial.

The importance of the virtual window for healthcare staff considers mental health in addition to physical health. Some association has been shown between rotating night shift nursing work and the risk of coronary heart disease, although further research is needed to explore whether the association is related to specific work hours and individual characteristics. Through case studies and evidence-based research examples, design implications of using virtual windows and their potential impact on the wellbeing of healthcare staff will be explored during this session.

Dr. Joel S. Edman, DSc, FACN, CNS, Clinical Nutritionist, Health Coach, Educator and Integrative Health Consultant, will speak at 9:00am US Pacific. His topic is “Nutritional and Holistic Approaches to Stomach and Intestinal Disorders: Practical guidelines that can also be helpful for chronic and/or complex health issues.” He states, “We all may have stomach and intestinal symptoms such as bloating, heartburn, gas, constipation, diarrhea and other symptoms from time to time. I will provide some background information on these GI symptoms, as well as some specific approaches to help reduce or eliminate them.” He puts his recommendations into a holistic framework of nutrition, exercise and stress management that can be the foundation of a healthy lifestyle for general health and well-being.

Dr. Edman was the Director of Integrative Nutrition and Associate Research Director for the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital (Pennsylvania, US). A Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, he specializes in teaching and coaching about the most effective use of nutritional and integrative health therapies for everything from chronic and complex symptoms and disorders to wellness and disease prevention. He has developed nutrition, lifestyle and integrative health programs for individuals with heart disease risk factors, neuropsychological disorders, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders and other diagnoses. His consultations and coaching programs focus on approaches that are individually tailored to the unique needs and characteristics of each person or group.

The full schedule for the symposium hosted by Virtual Ability, Inc.®, can be seen in this previous post. It is free and open to the public.

Monday, May 22, 2017

MHS Speaker Spotlights

Today we feature two speakers we have invited to present at the sixth annual Mental Health Symposium on Saturday the 27th of May, with the theme, "I can relate to that." We hope you will find these topics of great interest and mark your calendar to attend the symposium.

Mental health promotion - what can you do for you and your loved ones?
Ian Colman, PhD, is the Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Epidemiology and is an Associate Professor in the School of Epidemiology, Public Health, & Preventive Medicine at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Colman's research lab investigates factors associated with depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior, with a particular focus on public health approaches toward prevention and intervention.

His presentation at noon US Pacific time is titled "Mental health promotion - what can you do for you and your loved ones?” This talk will focus on things that people can do that might help their own mental health, and in doing so may also improve the mental health of those around them. Research will be discussed supporting the importance of a healthy diet, social activity, and speaking to a health professional when you are concerned about your mental health.

Bridging the Divide: Exploring research in nutrition, mental health and food security
Karen Davison, PhD, RD, is a registered dietitian and certified health education specialist who consults on nutrition and psychiatry. She is also a faculty member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and research affiliate with the Social Justice Centre. She was the project lead for the Dietitians of Canada role paper on nutrition and mental health ( Currently, she is the principal investigator of the Bridging the Divide project.

Dr. Davison advocates for integrated approaches to nutrition and mental health care and participatory approaches to research. Her presentation, “Bridging the Divide: Exploring research in nutrition, mental health and food security,” will begin at 1:30pm US Pacific time (4:30pm US Eastern time). A growing body of evidence indicates that food insecurity, diet quality, and mental health are interrelated. In this presentation, we will explore this research and where future efforts may be directed that foster nutritional and mental health. As part of this discussion, Canada's Bridging the Divide project ( will be highlighted.

The full schedule for the symposium hosted by Virtual Ability, Inc.®, can be seen in this previous post. It is free and open to the public.