Gardening is an excellent activity for people of all ages. It gets you outdoors, away from your computer or TV, breathing in the fresh air and building up a nice sweat. Plus, it provides a beautiful and soothing environment, while also giving you a sense of accomplishment as you reap the benefits of your labor.
Here’s why you should plant a garden this summer. Big or small, it can help us maintain our physical and mental health:
- Gardening can help alleviate stress: A study published in The Journal of Health Psychology compared reading and gardening as a form of stress relief. The results found that the gardening group not only reported better moods, but they had measurably lower levels of cortisol, “the stress hormone”.
- Gardening is a form of exercise, leading to healthier hearts: A Stockholm study of almost 4,000 people shows “regular gardening or DIY can prolong life by as much as 30% in 60-plus age group”. As we get older, more vigorous exercise can be hard on our bodies. 30 minutes of gardening a day is a great alternative, as it requires movement of both arms and legs.
- Gardening can improve hand strength and dexterity: With age, both our hand strength and dexterity start to diminish, and the number of activities we can enjoy diminish as well. Gardening gets us exercising our hand muscles, helping to keep them strong and agile. Related research led to it’s incorporation into some rehabilitative programs for stroke patients as a way to rebuild strength and ability. However, it’s important to note that gardening can lead to repetitive stress injuries like tendonitis or carpal tunnel. Be sure to do some simple warm ups to prevent this.
- Gardening can lift our moods and help with depression: It’s no surprise that spending time outside makes us happier. The fresh air, the sun…that wonderful scent of blooming flowers and beautiful display of colorful produce. There are some places that are using gardening as “horticulture therapy”. In Canada, this type of therapy has given proven results for patients with depression and other mental illness. ”Horticultural therapy as a treatment for many psychological and physical disorders is a valid and increasingly popular intervention,” says Mitchell Hewson, Canada’s first registered horticultural therapist who founded the country’s largest horticultural therapy program at Homewood Health Center, an addiction recovery and mental health treatment facility in Ontario.
Even if you’ve never gardened before, this summer could be a great time to try it! There are endless online resources that can help get you started. Here’s just one of them.
1. Breastfeeding protects your baby from certain illnesses
When you choose to breastfeed, you’re providing your baby with a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA). This acts as an immune factor, which guards against invading germs with its protective layer on the mucous membranes of your baby’s intestines, nose, and throat. Secretory IgA is at its highest concentration in colostrum, the first milk your body produces for your baby. It’s also present in more mature breast milk, the concentration is just lower.
Studies around the world have shown that ear infections, meningitis, stomach viruses and lower respiratory illnesses occur less often in breastfed babies. Or, if they do happen, they’re less severe.
Your breast milk is unique to your baby. Whatever pathogens (virus and bacteria) that you’re exposed to, your body will respond by making secretory IgA that’s specific to those pathogens. This will protect your baby from whatever virus or bacteria you’re exposed to while breastfeeding.
The protective nature of breastfeeding against illnesses actually impacts your baby beyond the breastfeeding stage. There have been studies showing how breastfed children have a reduced risk of developing certain childhood cancers. It’s not completely certain, but this is most likely due to antibodies present in the breast milk that help boost the baby’s immune system.
That’s not to mention the many diseases that can be avoided later in life as a result of breastfeeding, such as, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease.
2. Breastfeeding can protect your baby from developing allergies
The same substance that is protecting your baby from illnesses (secretory IgA), helps prevent allergic reactions to food. Similar to its role in immunity against illnesses, it succeeds in providing a layer of protection to your baby’s intestinal tract. This protective layer keeps undigested proteins away from the gut, preventing allergic reactions.
This protective layer doesn’t form in babies who are fed formula rather than breast milk, so they’re often more vulnerable to inflammation and allergies.
3. Breastfeeding may protect your child from obesity
It’s true – breastfeeding can be an effective way of reducing your child’s risk of becoming overweight or obese. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends it.
There are several reasons experts think that breastfeeding affects weight gain later in life:
- Breast milk contains less insulin than formula. (Insulin stimulates the creation of fat.)
- Breastfed babies have more leptin in their system, a hormone that researchers believe plays a role in regulating appetite and fat.
- Compared with breastfed babies, formula-fed infants gain weight more rapidly in the first weeks of life. This rapid weight gain is associated with later obesity.
4. Breastfeeding can reduce your risk of postpartum depression
Breastfeeding has been known for relaxing mothers. There’s actually scientific reasoning behind this: when you’re nursing, it leads to the release of the hormone oxytocin. Numerous animal studies on this hormone have found that it promotes nurturing and relaxation.
After reviewing more than 9,000 abstracts, The National Institutes of Health concluded that women who didn’t breastfeed or who stopped breastfeeding early on had a higher risk of postpartum depression.
This only covers a few of the many health benefits of breastfeeding. You can learn more on WebMD’s Health & Your Baby blog. They’ll also give you tips and go over any questions and/or anxieties that may come up for a breastfeeding mother.
Nurses continually give their time, energy, and expertise to help build healthier communities. The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation (WWHF) wants to aid you in the good work you do. If you are a nurse looking to use your talents to educate women in your community, join the GrapeVine Project! GrapeVine trains nurses on health care topics using a train-the-trainer approach. Nurses are then able to present that information to women in their community. WWHF supplies you with the PowerPoint presentation, speaking notes, scholarly resources, hand-outs, interactive tools, and training surrounding it all. We’re here to support you so you can facilitate dialogue around important health topics while focusing on prevention. As a volunteer nurse, you’ll help women make positive lifestyle changes, gain confidence in healthcare providers, and understand their own bodies.
“It makes sense to me to reach women where they’re at. GrapeVine has provided me with some structure so that my clinical experience can translate into healthy behavior changes for women. I love being present with women as they commit to becoming advocates for their own health.” -Sue Richards, GrapeVine Nurse for Dane County
GrapeVine nurses gather at the WWHF office for a program meeting
Register for our First Annual GrapeVine Conference, held June 1st and 2nd at the Concourse Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin. You’ll get started in the program by being trained on four units and learning from existing GrapeVine nurses. It is free – hotel and mileage reimbursements will even be provided to nurses travelling from outside the area. For new GrapeVine nurses there will be a brief online orientation beforehand. Register here for the conference or contact Program Manager, Nora Miller, for more information at 608-251-1675 x 103, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Champions in Women’s Health Awards honor individuals who have devoted themselves to improving the quality of life for women and families in their professional career. Past champions have been instrumental in raising awareness about women’s health issues, and have positively impacted the care that women in this state receive.
Champions will be honored for their work during a ceremony on Saturday, May 9, 2015 from 5 – 6:00pm at the Madison Concourse Hotel as a part of the Spring Gala festivities. Help us honor these amazing individuals by purchasing your Spring Gala ticket now!
Meet our 2015 Champions!
Jessica Engel, DNP, FNP-BC, AOCNP
Marshfield Clinic, Stevens Point Cancer Center
Dr. Engel’s personal history of cancer led to her pursuit of a career in oncology. She sought to help others the way she had been helped, and is now fortunate to be contributing to improvements in cancer care, with an emphasis on young women with cancer, high risk or disadvantaged women, breast cancer, cancer prevention and screening, patient education and overall care coordination.
She is currently working as a Nurse Practitioner at Marshfield Clinic, Stevens Point Cancer Center as well as a part time Instructor in two graduate nursing programs at UW-Oshkosh and UW-Eau Claire. Dr. Engel is an advocate and example for her students in advanced practice nursing.
Along with a team of researchers (which includes 2014 Champion, Dr. Onitilo), Dr. Engel has had the opportunity to participate in a number of studies related to improving cancer care for women in Wisconsin through enrolling patients and utilizing data from the Marshfield Clinic system of care, either in stand-alone studies or in collaboration with state-wide (UW-Stevens Point, UW Madison, Medical College of Wisconsin) or nation-wide study groups.
She has co-authored and co-investigated numerous studies and publications covering cancer research. In one study, the prevalence of co-occurrence of breast cancer and diabetes is examined, emphasizing the influence of the pre-diabetic state. Another explores breast cancer and tamoxifen use with the results leading to better understanding of adverse outcomes following tamoxifen treatment for women with breast cancer and recommendations for safer and more effective treatment. In a third publication, Dr. Engel and her colleagues observe quality of surgical treatment for breast cancer. The results of this study included the formation of the National Breast Cancer Surgical Outcomes research database. In collaboration with the UW-Stevens Point GIS department, Dr. Engel and a research team examined characteristics associated with mammogram utilization in Wisconsin, especially those associated with worse cancer stage at diagnosis. Through her involvement at Marshfield Clinic, Dr. Engel was able to co-author a survival comparison for breast conserving surgery and mastectomy, with consideration for the role of radiation therapy. Lastly is a study related to toxicity and tolerability of certain chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer, especially in regards to cardiac toxicity.
Margaret Fagerholm, MD
Clinical Professor, UW Medical Foundation – Department of Radiology, Madison
Dr. Fagerholm grew up in a multigenerational farm family in southeastern Minnesota, her family moving to Rochester, MN during her high school years. Her mother introduced the family to the medical field, successfully transitioning from a farmwife to the lead technician of an internationally respected neuromuscular research lab at the Mayo Clinic. Her parents believed strongly in education becoming the first in their respective families to obtain college degrees and their expectations became a reality with all five of their children earning advanced degrees.
In 1977, Dr. Fagerholm became a member of the sixth graduating class of Mayo Medical School in Rochester MN. In 1981, she began a Diagnostic Radiology residency at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, transitioning to a faculty member in 1985. She became the first outreach radiologist from the university, combining general radiology at Edgerton Memorial Hospital and breast imaging at UW from 1985-88. She brought back teaching cases from her practice, demonstrating to her colleagues that much of radiology happens outside of the large medical centers. Returning full time to UW, she was active in the Breast Imaging section serving as Chief of Mammography and Chief of Gastrointestinal and Genitourinary Radiology. During this time, she participated in resident and medical student training and contributed to local and regional educational conferences and outreach lectures. She taught the importance of attention to detail in obtaining history and high quality breast imaging to ensure patients receive the best possible care. She left briefly during 2000 to join a community radiology group in Illinois and then returned in 2001 to the newly added Community Radiology section of the Department of Radiology in Madison, providing radiology services at Meriter Hospital, UWMF at 1 South Park, Group Health Cooperative and Associated Physicians. She served as Chief of Breast Imaging and Clinical Director of 1 SP Operations over the next several years. In addition, she became part of an outreach group servicing Hess Memorial Hospital in Mauston WI. During this time, she expanded breast imaging, introducing ultrasound guided breast biopsy programs at 1 SP and Hess Memorial which replaced the more invasive method of surgical biopsy.
Over the past years, she has acted as Mammography Quality Standards Act Lead Interpreting Physician for 1SP, GHC and Hess Memorial. In these positions, she has been able to guide and implement state of the art technology and information to facilities throughout Wisconsin. She has consistently strived for the highest quality of breast imaging possible. She believes and has demonstrated that bridging services between large academic and small community facilities provides the best care and services for all patients.
Gail Hunt, MSW, LCSW
Women Veterans Program Manager, William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison
Gail Hunt’s social work career at the Madison VA has spanned 32 years, with the last 20 years focused on women’s health. As the Women Veterans Program Manager, she has been a tireless advocate for women Veterans.
First, she has focused on quality care. Gail and Dr. Molly Carnes established a nationwide program to train VA providers in the care of women. Gail also led the initiative to implement comprehensive primary care for women Veterans, ensuring that designated women’s health providers were in place at all VA outpatient clinics. Gail coordinates the Maternity Program, an important benefit for many women Veterans. Additionally, Gail regularly participates in Wisconsin National Guard Reintegration events to educate women service members about VA Care.
Second, Gail has helped the VA culture evolve to be more inclusive of women, who now constitute 8 percent of Veterans served by the hospital. She ensures that women’s privacy and dignity are respected throughout the hospital and has led initiatives to recognize the contributions of women service members.
Third, as a Senior Preceptor at the UW-Madison School of Social Work, Gail trains future social workers to recognize the special needs of women and older Veterans. In this capacity, she has shaped the careers of more than 100 Master of Social Work students.
Gail’s work was recognized with the highest national social work award given by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Under Secretary for Health’s Award for Excellence in Social Work Leadership (2012). The Wisconsin Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers also awarded Gail with its highest award, the Distinguished Social Worker Award (2006).
Sailaja Kamaraju, MD
Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology-Oncology at Froedtert and The Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Medical Director- Moorland Reserve Cancer Center, Froedtert and The Medical College of Wisconsin, New Berlin
Dr. Sailaja Kamaraju grew up in a family where her mother, father, and grandparents all worked for underserved women groups in India. As a teenager, she volunteered for Mother Teresa and Sri Sathya Sai Organizations in India which sowed the seed for her passion in medicine. After coming to the United States, she completed her residency at Hennepin County Medical Center and fellowship at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN. For the past 7to 8 years, she has been working with women from under-served communities and single handedly started a small breast cancer awareness group for Asian women, where cultural barriers play a major role in breast health education. She started this group at her own residence, which then expanded into annual events bringing women’s health issues to local communities in Milwaukee. She coordinated these events with various ethnic groups such as the Hindu Temple and the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
She recently joined the Froedtert and The Medical College of Wisconsin as a faculty in the division of breast oncology and received the Susan G. Komen Foundation grant to promote breast health for under-privileged communities in the City of Milwaukee (2014-2015 and 2015-2016). She organized monthly events at several local organizations such as the Muslim Community Health Center, the Sikh Temple of Milwaukee, Al-Qur’an, and the Dava center. Holding workshops at multiple venues has allowed her to reach out to African American, Asian, Burmese, and Somali immigrants. She collaborated with Froedtert and The Medical College of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Well Woman’s program, and Columbia St. Mary’s Mobile Mammogram Coach to organize monthly breast health educational workshops, examinations, and mammograms all at one door step for 250 underserved and underinsured women. Clinical breast examinations were all performed single handedly by Dr. Kamaraju in the first grant cycle.
She is also training several women volunteers in the community in hopes of coaching dedicated women leaders who will help promote cancer awareness and actively take a role in the search for a cure. She ensures that there is high quality of care given to women as they go through the process of breast cancer treatment and follow up. She provides very focused and compassionate care for women with breast cancer in each and every step of their journey and takes time to call patients on weekends and on a day off. Dr.Kamaraju has a passion in early detection and cancer survivorship and is actively participating in a community-academic partnership at The Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Kamaraju has an extremely supportive husband and they are blessed with two wonderful daughters.
Christine Shaw, PhD, ANP-BC, FNP-BC
Co-founder of Marquette Clinic for Women & Children
Clinical Associate Professor, Marquette University College of Nursing, Milwaukee
Chris Shaw PhD, FNP-BC, ANP-BC is a Clinical Associate Professor at Marquette University College of Nursing and the co-founder of the Marquette Clinic for Women and Children (MCWC), a free clinic in the inner city of Milwaukee. Dr. Shaw has been practicing at MCWC as a nurse practitioner for the last eighteen years. The care she provides includes diagnosis and treatment of chronic and episodic illnesses, health education, health promotion, and strategies to reduce health risks, all in the context of individual lifestyle, family and community. Though providing primary care to underserved women is a significant part of her role, the empowerment of these women that allows them to reduce their risk factors and promote and maintain health is the role that she most values. Dr. Shaw consistently demonstrates genuine respect, caring and advocacy for her clients and serves as a role model to nursing students and other health care providers in her treatment of clients with complex health and social issues.
Her role as faculty for Marquette undergraduate nursing students and graduate nurse practitioner students is also a high priority. She believes that one provider can affect the care of a limited number of women, but ensuring that students become knowledgeable and caring nurses magnifies the impact that one person has in improving women’s lives. As faculty in the College of Nursing, Dr. Shaw guides her students to obtain the knowledge and skills needed to provide the highest quality health care to those who are in greatest need. She is truly an individual who has devoted her career and her passion to improving the lives of women and their families.
Chris Shaw has been recognized by the Wisconsin Nurses Association with the Signe Cooper Image of Nursing Award, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners State Excellence in Practice Award for Wisconsin, and the Raynor Faculty Teaching Award at Marquette University.
“Familiar Story, Fresh Outlook: Addressing Social and Behavioral Factors in Perinatal Tobacco & Alcohol Use”
82 people attended the 10th Annual Perinatal Programs Statewide Meeting at the Grand Lodge Resort in Rothschild on March 12.
This year at the Statewide Meeting (SWM) we focused on gaining a fresh outlook on the social and behavior factors in perinatal tobacco & alcohol use. We had an excellent speaker line-up including our Opening Keynote, Jennifer S. Packard, MA, CTTS, Tobacco Treatment Specialist & Certified Wellness Coach. Ms. Packard currently serves as a Treatment Program Counselor at the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center. During her session she encouraged providers to identify participant values and strengths as a means for guiding motivation and behavior change.
Bruce Christiansen, PhD, Psychologist and Senior Scientist at the UW Center for Tobacco Research & Intervention also joined us. His session covered research on assisting smokers reluctant to make a quit attempt who are impacted by low socioeconomic status and mental illness.
Lastly, Randall Brown, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Addictive Disorders at UW Hospital and Clinics, provided a focus session on the impact of other substance use during pregnancy along with screening and treatment options. With an extensive background in family medicine, addictive disorders and population health sciences, Dr. Brown was an outstanding speaker for this topic.
We were also fortunate this year to celebrate some major milestones in our Perinatal Programs. WWHF Executive Director, Tommi Thompson, delivered a speech commemorating the 15th & 16th thousandth woman enrolling into First Breath in 2014 and over 800 women being screen for prenatal alcohol use with the My Baby & Me screen tool. Thank you to everyone who was able to join us in celebrating this important accomplishment!
WWHF staff enjoying the presentations at the 2015 SWM.
Evaluations from the event show that providers strongly agree that attending the 2015 SWM provided them with information they could use and was a valuable use of their time.
- “So glad I came! I can use this information in a lot of aspects of my nursing career.”
- “Great use of time, length of presentations and breaks- Thank you!”
- “Excellent! So glad I attended.”
- “Thank you so much for putting together such a great conference. It was a great learning experience and there are many wonderful and exciting things I will be taking back to my co-workers.”
- “Great job! Appreciate all you do!”
And thank you to our attendees and every health provider out there supporting our mission to help Wisconsin women and their families reach their healthiest potential!
New to the WWHF? Get familiar with our perinatal programs: First Breath, My Baby & Me
The 52 year old woman’s family first started to notice changes when she missed two meetings. Juggling projects that used to be a breeze for her became confusing and a chore. Soon her family observed other odd behaviors; lost jewelry, lost keys, forgetting the names of friends. They became concerned. Finally her family persuaded her to see her doctor. The diagnosis: early onset dementia.
Early onset dementia, or EOD, affects individuals under the age of 65 and many are in their 40s and 50s. The latest estimate from the Alzheimer’s Association puts the number between 200,000 and 640,000 Americans with EOD and other dementias. As this number rises I want to provide you with information on EOD in case you would ever have the symptoms. Furthermore, I have included pertinent information on caregiving for women who already have someone in the home with this devastating disease.
Take some time to review the EOD symptoms and learn about available resources in our state.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. You may have seen ads in magazines or on social media depicting an upside-down heart with the text “love your colon”. It’s a clever way to draw people’s attention to a major cancer killer in our country that can sometimes get “overshadowed” by well marketed issues like heart disease (which is, in fact, the leading cause of death in the United States, absolutely validating all the attention it receives.)
However, you should know that of cancers affecting both men and women, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is the second leading cancer killer in the United States and the second most common cancer in Wisconsin. What’s unfortunate about that statistic, is that this can be prevented by receiving regular screenings starting at age 50. Screening can help find precancerous polyps—abnormal growths in the colon or rectum—so they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure.
If you are 50 years old or older, it’s time to schedule an appointment and get screened. If you think you may be at higher than average risk for colorectal cancer (in general people over the age of 50 are at the highest risk. You may also have a higher risk if you are African American, smoke, or have a family history of colorectal cancer), talk to your doctor about getting screened early.
Want more information on why colon cancer is such a big deal? Get educated today so you can be healthy tomorrow.
Check out the helpful infographic on colon cancer in Wisconsin, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Registration for the GrapeVine 2015 Annual Conference is now open! Register for this free two-day event taking place on June 1& 2 at the The Madison Concourse Hotel. All GrapeVine Project nurses and RN’s who are passionate about women’s health are welcome!
Join the GrapeVine Project Today!
Contact Amanda Verbrick or call 800-448-5148, ext. 104 for more information.
February 2015 - You have seen it happen to your friends or family members before. One misplaced step on the ice or a trip over the coffee table and you have a broken bone. Fractures can occur in a woman at any age, but as we grow older our bones become more brittle. Your chance of having osteoporosis is four times higher than a man. Building good bone health practices into your daily routine will decrease your chances of osteoporosis. As I look at my healthy goals for 2015, bone health is near the top of my list. Are you at risk of poor bone health?
Let’s dig into current information on osteoporosis and include preventative bone health into your lifestyle.
Expressive writing has been found to “improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory” (Writing Your Way to Happiness, New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope, January 19, 2015).
Sometimes figuring out how to cope with stress can be stressful.
You may ask yourself what you’re doing wrong and why you can’t seem to handle the things of life that other people appear to be handling perfectly well.
First, it’s important to note that you are not alone. Feeling overwhelmed is an unfortunately popular sentiment felt by all. Everyone seems like they’re handling things well because societal norms demand this of us. Pretending that everything is fine when it’s not may help in the moment, but it will ultimately result it greater problems.
Thankfully, there are healthy ways of dealing with our stress. One such way is journaling, or expressive writing.
This form of stress-management has gone beyond being a simple self-help method. Researchers around the country are studying the effects of expressive writing and journaling as a way of coping with our sometimes self-destructive outlooks on life. Many studies have found that writing about our life experiences, and then revisiting these writings, can help us evaluate our feelings and even improve our ability to deal with challenges.
A study led by Dr. Timothy D. Wilson, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, asked married couples to write about a conflict as if from a neutral observer. The results found that among the 120 couples who participated in this study, those who wrote about the conflict showed greater improvement in marital happiness than those who did not.
In his book, “Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By,” Dr. Wilson states that, “Writing forces people to reconstrue whatever is troubling them and find new meaning in it.”
This is just one of many studies that are being conducted around the country focusing on writing and our mental health. To learn about more studies that focus on this type of research, please view the links at the bottom of this article.
Here at the WWHF we see clearly the health benefits that come from practicing healthy journaling techniques. We provide support in this area with our EveryWoman’s Journal program, an education outreach program that teaches women how to use proactive health journaling techniques to increase individual awareness of their mental, physical, and emotional health, and guide them towards positive, effective action to improve their health and sense of personal well-being. Proactive health journaling helps women translate personal reflection and feedback into actions that increase well-being by becoming in tune with physical messages our body give us and by using self-care techniques.
You can schedule your free 2-hour journaling session by contacting our Program Coordinator, Nora Miller at Nmiller@wwhf.org or call 800-448-5148, ext. 103.
Stanford Researchers focus on African American students struggling to adjust to college
Benefits of Expressive Writing in Lowering Rumination and Depressive Symptoms
Expressive writing can increase working memory capacity