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EAST COUNTY

Health Matters Observer

AUGUST 2019

LANGUAGE Delay dementia with a bilingual brain. PAGE 2

LUNCHTIME Keep kids motivated at school with a healthy lunch.

PAGE 6

ON THE

BRAIN PROTECT YOUR TEETH

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PAGE 11

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HEALTH MATTERS

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YourObserver.com

AUGUST 2019

LEARN THE HEALTH

LANGUAGE Speaking more than one language can help improve cognitive function, delay dementia. BRYNN MECHEM STAFF WRITER

W

Photos by Bynn Mechem

Simona Bai teaches her students the proper endings for verbs in Italian.

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hen Chai Lawler was 20, she was working at a military facility in Taiwan. It was there that she met her first husband, James Murvine, who was serving in the Army. The two fell in love and decided to move to Chicago. The only problem? Lawler spoke minimal English. Growing up in Taiwan, Lawler spoke Mandarin Chinese and picked up a few English phrases throughout her life. Murvine, however, did not know any Mandarin Chinese. “I couldn’t even fight with him because I didn’t speak English,” Lawler said. However, upon her arrival in the U.S., Lawler took courses in English as a second language and spent countless hours watching TV to improve. After two years in the U.S., Lawler said she learned English well enough to argue. But that’s not the only benefit

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Chai Lawler, who volunteer-teaches at Friendship Centers, writes out “How are you?” in Mandarin Chinese for her students.

she and other multilinguists get from learning more languages. HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT ME?

Nicci Kobritz, a geriatric specialist and the founder of Sarasota’s Center for Brain Health, said bilingual speakers can see a variety of benefits, such as increased attention spans, concentration, reasoning and problem-solving. One student at Intraespa Inter-

cultural Learning Center, Brad Kaiser, said that since he began learning Spanish five years ago, he has seen his overall brain function improve. “I’m a firm believer that when you challenge your brain, it helps your creativity,” Kaiser said. “It helps connect patterns and thoughts and things that maybe would have escaped you before.” These improvements occur because learning a second language is a brain-training program that is neuroplasticitybased, Kobritz said. This means it focuses on strengthening the brain’s connections among neurons, which improves a person’s information recall and overall brain communication. Simona Bai, an Italian teacher with Adult & Community Enrichment at Suncoast Technical College, said she sees these improvements firsthand with her students, who she said are typically between 50 and 60 years old. “As people get older, the more difficult it is to memorize things,” Bai said. “But learning another language is very good for the memory. My students have all said their memory has improved after taking the class.” Another skill Bai said people can see improvement in is multitasking. She said this is because when learning another language,

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LEARNING THE LINGO Trying to learn a new language but can’t quite grasp it? Try some of these tips from local language teachers Chai Lawler and Simona Bai: Approach the language with a positive mind. Bai said her students often think picking up a new language will be like learning a new hobby but then get frustrated when they find it takes more effort. She said students should go into a lesson with an open mind, even when it gets tough. Know it’s a welcome environment. Lawler said language classes are welcoming because everyone is trying

said. “In April, I was better than March. In May, I was better than April. In June, I was better than May, and I think I’m almost getting back to normal.” DOES AGE MATTER?

Bai, who also teaches children, said that typically, kids pick up the language a little faster than adults. However, her adult students have more time to study. National Institutes of Health reports that one in five children nationwide speak a language other than English at home. Bilingual children, NIH research said, are better at multitasking and show a better memory than monolingual children. Although Kobritz said that the younger a person starts a neuroplasticity-based program, the better, older learners will still see all of the benefits.

Mike McKillip (left) was injured during his time as a Marine in the Gulf War. He said learning Spanish has helped bring back memories he lost following a heart transplant.

“Your body can change at any age, so there’s no cutoff in terms of age or improvement,” she said. In fact, various studies conducted at Penn State University from 2013 to 2016 show older learners are often better at prioritizing information and that the enhanced mental skills can protect them from problems associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Furthermore, a 2015 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that differences between monolingual and bilingual brains positively increase as a person ages. For example, bilinguists present symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia an average of four

to five years later than monolinguists, and older bilinguists are more efficient at resolving conflict than younger bilinguists. “We used to believe that when we were born, whatever brain cells we got, that’s what we had the rest of our lives,” Kobritz said. “We now know that that’s not true. We can affect change in the brain.” Although these changes can be largely helped by a brain-training program, Kobritz said they must be combined with other variables to be successful. She cited four to five days of exercise, eating a plant-based diet, sleeping seven to eight hours a night and managing stress levels as various pillars to a full brain-healthy lifestyle.

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■ Friendship Centers Sarasota, 1888 Brother Geenen Way, offers Chinese and Italian classes from 10 a.m. to noon Thursdays. It is $4 for members and $7 for nonmembers per class. ■ Adult & Community Enrichment Classes at Suncoast Technical College, 4748 S. Beneva Road, offers Chinese, ESL, French, German, Japanese, Italian, American Sign Language and Spanish at various times throughout the week. Classes cost $100 to $200. Find a time that suits you by visiting www.campusce.net/ acesarasota. ■ Intraespa Intercultural Learning Center, 5899 Whitfield Ave., Suite 107, offers classes in English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Portuguese and French. Classes range in variety of a 24-session course or a 12-session course for those who want to learn the basics before traveling. The 24-session course costs $1,080, and the 12-session course ranges from $400 to $500. Call 355-4452. ■ The Literacy Council of Sarasota offers ESL courses. The course can be taught as a class or with a one-on-one tutor. The classes are taught all over Sarasota County. Although the course is free, there is a one-time registration fee of $25. Call 955-0421.

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to learn. Don’t be afraid to try because it is better to do it in a learning environment than in the country of origin. Study up the day after a lesson. Bai said her students frequently wait too long after a lesson to review. If students review the day after a lesson, they have an easier time remembering the content. Utilize word puzzles and word games. Lawler said she often gives her students word puzzles to help them interact with the language in a fun way. Learn phrases that you frequently use. Lawler said she typically teaches her students common phrases before jumping into grammar.

Courtesy photo

you rely more heavily on your first language. In this way, learners are flipping back and forth from one language to another, which helps stimulate that part of the brain. Mike McKillip, 54, another Intraespa student, said this stimulation has helped his memory improve since he began learning Spanish in March. McKillip was injured while serving in the Marines during the Gulf War and ended up living on a heart pump for four years. He had a heart transplant in October 2017 and said the medication afterward caused his mind to become foggy and his memory to go bad. However, after beginning to learn Spanish, he said his memory is slowly coming back. “I could remember numbers I wasn’t able to remember; I remembered names of people I’d worked with years ago,” McKillip

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BUG SPRAY

Insect repellent is the most wellknown preventative measure people take to block mosquitoes. But not all repellents are equal. “We recommend you use an EPA-registered repellent,” Greenan said. “They are safe for use, and they’re effective.” The best repellents use one of four active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535. Brennan said EPA-registered repellents are more effective than strategies like bug-repellent bracelets or lanterns. Steve Huard, spokesman for the Sarasota County Department of Health, said to put sunscreen on before repellent, so the sunscreen is more functional. Brennan said putting repellent on before sunscreen could block the effectiveness of the repellent because it has been sealed. OTHER APPROACHES TO MOSQUITO PROTECTION

Huard, Greenan and Brennan were adamant about eradicating unnecessary containers holding water. This is because, as Huard said, “Mosquitoes can breed in as little water as a beer bottle cap.” Possible such containers include planters, pool covers, boat covers, buckets, birdbaths and pet bowls. “We are in a state where there’s tons of travel, international trav-

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Steve Huard, Sarasota County Department of Health spokesman, said mosquito repellent doesn’t work as well with no-see-ums, which are pesky sandflies that bite. According to Wade Brennan, Sarasota County Mosquito Management biologist and manager, though, there is a way to stop them: “Fans work great against nosee-ums. They’re very weak fliers.”

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el, on a regular basis, so we’re always worried about our container mosquito population that can transmit either Zika, dengue or chikungunya,” Brennan said. Huard and Brennan also mentioned seemingly small details to minimize risk, such as making sure windows have screens and being careful during sunset because that hour or two is the worst time for mosquito activity. The Florida Department of Health advises people to cover their skin with long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Clothing treated with permethrin, which is a mosquito-killing insecticide, will give you even better protection from the insects. People can buy permethrin-treated clothing at most retail outlets and on websites like Amazon. Brennan issued a final warning as to why it is vital that people are careful during the summer. “We are just starting to enter our normal West Nile virus season and St. Louis encephalitis season,” he said. “So it’s really important for people to take these precautions now more than ever. When it’s winter, spring, those are times when it’s always important, but now the risk blows up from here to November.”

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“The more you itch it, the worse it’s going to be,” Brennan said. “And if you scratch to a point where you create an open wound, then you’re causing bigger problems with the possibility of infection.” Greenan said she typically recommends using a mild hand soap and water to clean and reduce the itch of the bite.

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AUGUST 2019

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IS NOW IS IS NOW NOW Sarasota Orthopedic Associates Sarasota Orthopedic Associates

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Figuring out what the best healthy foods to pack for your kids’ lunch can be tricky. Follow these tips for good nutrition.

Same Expert Only our NAME hasCare Changed! Only our NAME has Changed!

WHITNEY ELFSTROM STAFF WRITER

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he school year is here, and free time is scarce. Between running your kids to and from school, soccer practice and dance lessons, driving them around town is a full-time job — on top of the job you might already have. But that doesn’t mean packing healthy lunches should fall to the side. After all, what goes into kids’ little mouths can either fuel them for the day filled with multiplication tables or cause a mid-afternoon crash. “[Early childhood] is an extremely important time where [kids] have developing brains,” said Bonnie London, of Sarasotabased London Wellness who has been a registered dietitian of 20 years. “They’re trying to focus at school and [have] energy.” It’s also an important time to establish a healthy relationship with their bodies and food, London said. One way to do this is not to take any major food options off the table but rather to introduce a variety of foods into kids’ day-today diets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that each day children should consume 2 cups of fruit, 2½ cups of veg-

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etables, 6 ounces of grains, 5½ ounces of protein and 3 cups of dairy. London recommends that parents focus on filling kids’ lunches with vegetables, proteins and healthy fats with a little bit of fruit and dairy on the side. As for foods to stay away from? London suggests swapping milk or juice for water and staying clear of processed foods, such as Doritos or anything with high fructose corn syrup. “Things I would not want in my lunchbox are any [products] that I consider a food-like substance, like things in bags or convenience foods,” London said. “People think: ‘Oh, they’re kids. They can eat whatever they want.’ … [But] when these kids are eating [junk food], it actually takes nutrients out of their bodies in order to digest it.” London’s main lunchbox hack for parents is to come up with three go-to lunches and to keep the ingredients readily available to form an assembly line of easy, healthy meals. So what if your weeks are busy, your mornings are busier, and you don’t have the time to put extra thought into a packed lunch? London recommends using leftovers. Turn last night’s chicken into a wrap or quesadilla, or use taco meat to create a build your own nachos. Ryan Belak, a mother of two, packs her sons’ lunches every day. With her younger son off at day care and her older in school, she stays on top of what her kids are putting into their bodies. Belak said Brayden, 9, prefers his lunchbox to consist of salad with chicken or turkey, guacamole or hummus with chips, yogurt or cheese sticks, fruit, and carrots or celery sticks. Jackson, 3, is her picky child who prefers pasta, yogurt and fruit. “I try and change it up a little bit to give them some variety,” Belak said. “They kind of get bored if I pack the same thing over and over. My 9-year-old loves to make his lunch. He actually wants to be a chef. So for him, he really takes the opportunity to make these really intricate lunches.” Engaging your children in the lunch-making process — by coming up with recipes or putting everything together — is a good way to help kids make a connection with the healthy foods going into their bodies, London said.

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AUGUST 2019

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IN A LUNCHBOX? VEGETABLES

GRAINS Pack brown rice or quinoa for a healthy serving of grains.

London said kids need about 1 cup of vegetables at lunch. Pack some leafy greens, broccoli, carrots or bell peppers.

FRUIT

PROTEIN

For a serving of fruit, try apples, blueberries, oranges, strawberries, pears or cucumbers.

London recommends 3 to 4 ounces of protein in a kid's lunch. Try chicken, buffalo mozzarella, salmon, hard-boiled eggs or Greek yogurt.

HEALTHY FATS

London recommends about 2 tablespoons of healthy fats at lunch, which could be avocado, sunflower butter, olives or nuts.

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—Apollo Lirio

of [youth sports] injuries are to the front four teeth.” Why are store-bought mouthguards ineffective? Lirio compares the issue to running. If you run in flip-flops, your feet are going to hurt, and you are more likely to fall because the flip-flips do not stay on your feet. Running in sneakers provides the support and stability required for the activity. It’s the same for mouthguards. Lirio said store-bought mouthguards, especially ones marketed “ages 11 and up” or a similar slogan, stick out of the mouth and do not stay on your teeth unless you bite them. Each person’s arch, or U-shape, is different. If a mouthguard won’t stay on your child’s teeth, Lirio said, it can’t do its job. Many football mouthguards, for example, are sold with tethers to connect them to a face mask. This is only necessary because manufacturers know they won’t stay in the mouth, Lirio said. The bottom line: If a mouthguard doesn’t stay in place, it isn’t protecting anything. Underdog mouthguards don’t have this issue. To make an Underdog mouthguard, Lirio said he takes a mold of the athlete’s mouth, makes a model of their teeth from that mold then creates the mouthguard — with layers of ethylenevinyl acetate, an FDA-approved, BPA-free material — from around that model. He said his process ensures the guard stays on the athlete’s upper

teeth at all times, even when talking. This is safer and also allows the athlete to easily communicate with teammates, something that is harder to do when plastic is sloshing around your mouth or through a “pacifier”-style mouthguard, which blocks the front of your mouth and limits breathing. Lirio can also alter mouthguards based on an athlete’s sport and needs. Former Riverview High offensive lineman Kye Dixon, who will play for Jacksonville University in the fall, has used Lirio’s mouthguards for two years. When he began playing offensive line as a junior, his previous mouthguard made it nearly impossible for teammates to understand him. Since using an Underdog, he said there have been zero problems. “They’re amazing,” Dixon said. “You don’t even feel like you are wearing a mouthguard, just that you have a little extra something on your gums and teeth.” Lirio said his mouthguards are available to everyone, whether a dentist patient of his or not. A youth mouthguard costs $59, and an adult mouthguard costs $79. Although this is more expensive than store-bought mouthguards, which are typically $12 to $20, it is less expensive than other custom mouthguards, which can run up to $150, he said. Plus, it evens out in the end. Lirio said athletes can go through two or three storebought ones a season thanks to wear and tear from chewing, but his can last two years because having them stuck to the teeth reduces the frequency of chewing. Mouthguards are the last line of defense, Lirio said, so it’s important athletes have the protection they need.

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YourObserver.com

AUGUST 2019

Bathe yourself with nature Studies show that spending technologyless time outside will improve your mental health.

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OSCAR SCHERER STATE PARK, OSPREY Sitting between Sarasota and Venice, Oscar Scherer offers many trails, but you can’t beat the Lester Finley Trail. Located just beyond the entrance ranger station, the trail winds its way through a wooded area adjacent to South Creek. You can make a loop back to the entrance for about a 1-mile stretch or continue onto the picnic area and another trail tracing the creek further into the park.

described as executive function. Thus activities that allow this area some much-needed time off pay big dividends. In the Scientific Reports study, the threshold for attaining discernible benefits was two hours per week. Although that might seem like a large chunk of time, it didn’t matter how that time was divided up. Simply choosing a more treelined path in which to walk Fluffy or Fido 15 minutes per day would easily do the trick, as long as you leave the phone at home and focus more on your surroundings than the to-do list scrolling though your brain. Or incorporating tree-bathing into your exercise regimen could be as simple as starting with a commitment to being more mindful of your surroundings than the number of steps you have taken. Strayer reports that it only takes as few as three days to see and feel the benefits. For those of you who might need a little help in disconnecting from your busy brain, start by listening for bird calls or songs, observing the wind (or lack of it) or feeling your feet hit the ground. The more you can connect your senses to the surroundings, the more relaxed you and your brain will be.

MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK For a quick fix of forest, try the Ranch House Road trail, about 2.5 miles into the park. It’s populated with old oak and pine trees, plus a lot of palmetto ground cover. Listen closely, and you’ll hear the rustling of trees or the screeching of birds on a hunt. Ranch House connects to a network of trails on the east side of the park, but it’s an easy mile walk up to the first trail and back to the main road.

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KRISTINE NICKEL

ver feel different, more connected to your surroundings, even more alive, while taking a stroll or a hike through a wooded area? If so, you have experienced the essence of what many people call tree-bathing. Yes, as the term implies, tree-bathing is the process of being immersed in a natural setting, literally bathing yourself with nature. And before you dismiss this as just another wacky trend, it’s worth taking a minute to learn more about the effects. You might be impressed. A study recently published in Scientific Reports, a mega journal by Nature Research, linked significant benefits to spending at least two hours per week outdoors in a natural setting, or tree-bathing. The report was based on a study of 20,000 peo-

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ple in the U.K. and concluded that those choosing the outdoors had consistently higher levels of physical and mental health than those who did not. Although that might seem like a no-brainer, especially the higher physical well-being, the authors found more to it than, say, working out in a gym or on a treadmill at home. The report stated that exercising in nature is “more psychologically beneficial than in other locations.” The authors’ hypothesis suggests “a complex interaction between the two.” This study is supported by other similar research. It seems that going into nature actually changes the way your brain works. A walk in the wild, even if it’s an urban park, allows your senses to connect with a different set

of parameters: no technology, a reduction of stress and a preponderance to be “in the moment,” or present in your surroundings. University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer told the “Today Show,” “It’s a contrast between our modern, pluggedin, frenetic, on-the-go, connected-to-social-media, sleepingwith-your-phone-under-your pillow, modern world.” Being in nature rests and refreshes the area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. Most neuroscientists will attest to the overwhelming importance of the prefrontal cortex. It’s the part of the brain that assists us with problemsolving, planning, decisionmaking and setting goals — all of the aspects that make up what is

RED BUG SLOUGH PRESERVE Just between Clark and Proctor roads on Beneva is this 72-acre piece of nature in the middle of residential Sarasota. There are several miles of hiking trails through the preserve, and my experience is that you will have a wonderful sense of the outdoors only minutes from just about any spot in Sarasota.

Kristine Nickel is a marketing communications consultant. For more than 30 years, she has relieved her stress by writing features for publications across the country.

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Sarasota South Sarasota Midtown Sarasota North North 4055 Clark Rd 2855 University Parkway 1279 S Tamiami TrailSarasota North Sarasota Midtown Sarasota South 2855Sarasota, University FLParkway 34233 Sarasota, FL 34239 Sarasota, FL 34243 Sarasota 2855 University Parkway 1279 S Tamiami Trail 4055 Clark Rd Sarasota, FL927-6200 34243 Sarasota,(941) FL 34243 Sarasota, FL 34239(941) Sarasota, FL 34233 308-7600 (941) 556-6400 Copyright © 2019 Delos Living LLC. All rights reserved. (941) 556-6400 (941) 308-7600 (941) 927-6200 Copyright © 2019 Delos Living LLC. All rights reserved. (941) 556-6400

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Offer valid for first-time guests only. Session times include a total of 10 minutes of time for consultation and dressing, which occurs pre and post-service. Additional taxes and fees many apply. Prices subject to change. Rates and services may vary by franchised location and session. Not all Massage Envy locations offer all services. For a specific list of services available or additional information about joining as a member, check with the specific location or see MassageEnvy.com. Each location is independently owned and operated. ©2019 Massage Envy Franchising, LLC. MM341087

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HEALTH MATTERS

YourObserver.com

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AUGUST 2019

Healthy changes can come little by little River Club resident says eliminating sugar, meat gives her more energy, better health. PAM EUBANKS SENIOR EDITOR

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iver Club resident Tara Motzenbecker, 38, remembers life as a college student when she would skip breakfast and then eat lunch, dinner and a late-night snack all from fast-food restaurants. Since moving to Florida in 2006, however, she has gradually learned what it means to become healthy and continues to research the topic. “It’s always evolving,” Motzenbecker said of her eating lifestyle. “I went through a time I thought Lean Pockets was the healthy version.” Now she exercises regularly and no longer consumes meat, grains or sugar. “I feel better when I’ve been eating healthy,” she said. Motzenbecker tries to purchase all organic produce. If something isn’t organic, she tries to buy natural foods, such

ABOUT TARA Age: 38 Neighborhood: River Club Occupation: Licensed school psychologist Favorite food: Bananas fried in coconut oil with walnuts and cinnamon Best advice: Start with small changes, such as drinking more water or having one whole-food meal a day. Small changes add up and are much more manageable.

as wild-caught fish or no-hormone and no-antibiotic dairy. “A lot of the mainstream grocery stores now offer lots of healthy options, so I frequent Publix, Earth Fare and Whole Foods,” she said. “I even find better options for organic produce at these chain stores than at farmers markets.” Although Motzenbecker has changed her eating as she learned more about healthy foods, the major change began after the birth of her daughter, Zoe. In June 2010, when Zoe was about 9 months old, Motzen-

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Tara Motzenbecker makes a healthy smoothy for breakfast each morning. It includes plant-based protein powder, blueberries, kale, avocado and banana.

becker began researching what solid foods to feed her. Options including sweet potato, steamed kale and avocado proved to be healthy options. Motzenbecker rationalized that if they were good for Zoe, they must also be good for her, and she began incorporating those foods into her own diet too. As she researched meat, she learned the body has a hard time digesting it and decided to eliminate it. “I noticed a huge change in my energy levels,” Motzenbecker said. “I just felt better.” In fall 2015, Motzenbecker made another big change: eliminating both grain and sugar, which are processed similarly in the body, from her diet.

Her breakfast consists of a smoothie with plant-based protein powder, banana, kale, blueberries, avocado and unsweetened coconut milk; lunch might be a salad topped with black beans. Dinner could be a bowl of quinoa topped with fresh veggies or maybe a piece of fish with vegetables. Now sugar is the first ingredient she looks for on food labels. If there’s added sugar, she doesn’t buy it. However, she will eat sugar that occurs naturally in food, like in a banana. Motzenbecker said the key it to make small changes at first. “Take little steps,” she said. “For example, no snacks after dinner. Let your body digest its food and sleep better.”

HEALTHY EATING TIPS If you think buying organic is too expensive, be more selective. Motzenbecker recommends sticking with the rule, "If you eat the flesh, go organic." If it's something that has a peel, it's healthier because you are peeling away the area where pesticides were directly applied.

Make Hawthorne Village Part of your Healthcare Plan!

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HEALTH MATTERS

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YourObserver.com

AUGUST 2019

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center is the first in our community to offer a

b rth designer program

to help expectant mothers create the personalized birth plan of their choice. The goal of the Birth Designer program is to deliver the most patient-centered care possible and to help educate expectant mothers and their support team on the tools they will need to stay safe and healthy during the prenatal, delivery and postpartum periods. Creating customized birth plans is a key component of the program.

Meet Our New Birth Designer “My role as a birth designer is to help deliver the most patient-centered care possible. Everyone – doctors, staff and patients – is involved with the birth plan constructed for each individual.” Chrissy Coney, RN, BSN, CLC Experienced Obstetrics Nurse and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center Birth Designer

Schedule your appointment with our Birth Designer For more information, call 941.782.2229. Visit lwrmc.com/birthdesigner or email: birthdesigner@lwrmc.com. Birth Designer will respond within 48 hours to all inquiries.

Women’s Center

8330 Lakewood Ranch Boulevard | Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202

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The Women’s Center at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center provides a dedicated nursery and neonatologist. With limited exceptions, physicians are not employees or agents of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. For language assistance, disability accommodations and the non-discrimination notice, visit our website. 190094-6921 7/19

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Health Matters: East County 8.15.19  

Health Matters: East County 8.15.19