At Affinity Occupational Health, we're gearing up for fall. That means a fresh start of preventive care, healthy eating, fitness and mental wellness. You'll find it all here in this edition of Health e-News.
Want to protect your workforce from the flu? Check out our article on scheduling on-site flu clinics. Focusing on HRAs? Read about how improving cholesterol can make a huge impact on your wellness culture. Promoting healthy families? See our tips for encouraging family meals, how to spot signs of school stress, and nutritious foods that taste good, too.
Please pass along this valuable information to your employees. Their version of this month's newsletter is available at: http://goo.gl/waWRJA.
To your good health,
Manager, Wellness and Employer Solutions
Affinity Health System
This Flu Season, Keep Your Workforce Working
Affinity Occupational Health Can Help
Affinity Occupational Health offers convenient on-site vaccinations at your business administered by a health care professional. These are scheduled in October and November to maximize immunity throughout Wisconsin's long flu season.
According to statistics from federal health officials:
- The World Health Organization estimates that the cost of influenza to the U.S. economy in terms of health care costs and lost productivity can range from $71 billion to $167 billion a year.
- An employee ill with the flu who comes to work is not only unproductive but may spread the virus to colleagues, causing the flu to become more widespread and linger longer within an employer's workforce.
- Consider the financial toll of "presenteeism" at far exceeding the cost of absenteeism. (Presenteeism is a term used for employees who are physically at work but not productive.) Flu symptoms and medications can affect an employee's focus and concentration.
For more information on how our influenza vaccination services can benefit your organization or to schedule your on-site service, call Todd Repp at (920) 727-8715 or 1-800-541-0351.
Try This! Workplace Wellness Tip:
Hectic Household, Healthy Meals
How to salvage healthy family meals as back-to-school routines crunch the household schedule
By Heidi Ostrom, wellness account specialist
Affinity Occupational Health
As summer winds down, life gets more hectic with school starting up again for many families. Below are some ways to promote healthy family meals.
Conduct a freezer meal workshop at work.
We all lead busy lives, whether it's family, professional, or extracurricular activities. Our days are constantly on the go. When we're so busy, it's easier to take shortcuts and eat less healthy foods by using prepackaged convenience items, getting delivery or drive-through foods, or by eating out. These options are more expensive and less healthy than home-cooked meals. Encourage employees to keep a steady supply of nutritious meals on standby in the freezer to cook during the busy work week. Invite a dietitian to come on-site to show employees how to prepare freezer meals as well as hand out a variety of recipes. Then ask participants to take a picture of their family eating one of these make-ahead dishes! Post all pictures in the lunch room to further encourage the freezer meal solution.
Give employees a 20-minute meals cookbook.
It's hard to take time to cook after work, especially if you are cooking a large meal for your family. With recipes that ensure cooking time of 20 minutes or less, making a family meal is much more manageable. To make the cookbook more exciting, invite employees to submit a few quick, healthy, easy family meals they enjoy so others can use them as well. Involving your employees in the process makes them more apt to try something new. Make sure the cookbook is filled with pictures and step-by-step instructions. Provide the cookbook to all employees.
Host a potluck lunch.
Invite employees to bring a variety of easy homemade meals. Include recipes and step-by-step instructions for each dish. Turn this into a contest by having employees vote for their favorite meal, easiest meal to prepare, most family-friendly meal, etc. Entries with the most votes could win a grocery store gift card or a new kitchen gadget.
Educate employees about healthy options for dining out.
Sometimes eating out is the only option. In this case, educate employees about healthy fast food or casual dining options in the area, including what to avoid. Provide handouts or pamphlets about healthy cooking styles such as choosing foods that are baked, steamed, broiled, roasted, poached or stir-fried. Avoid foods that are deep-fried or have heavy cream sauces or high-fat condiments. If having a salad, ask for dressing on the side. Arming employees with the knowledge of healthy options will empower them to make smart choices.
Do You Know Your Numbers?
September is National Cholesterol Education Month! At Affinity Occupational Health, we offer a variety of programs and services aimed at improving your heart health. Why? Because maintaining good cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels can help prevent a host of ailments and boost your chances of maintaining a high-quality, active lifestyle. Aim for these numbers:
Total cholesterol = Less than 200 mg/dL (150 mg/dL is optimal)
LDL (bad) cholesterol = Less than 160 mg/dL (less than 100 mg/dL for people with heart disease)
HDL (good) cholesterol = Women, 50 mg/dL or higher; Men, 40 mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides = Less than 150 mg/dL
Fasting glucose (blood sugar) = Less than 100 mg/dL
Blood pressure = Less than 120/80 mmHg
BMI (body mass index) = Less than 25, higher than 18.5
Did you know?
Compared to a total cholesterol level (TCL) of 200 mg/dL...
TCL of 250 mg/dL doubles your risk of having a heart attack in middle life.
TCL of 300 mg/dL quadruples the risk.
Source: American Heart Association
Cholesterol screenings are offered to each employee as a part of our health risk assessment (HRA) program. If your company doesn't provide HRAs, encourage all workers to see their primary care provider for an annual wellness check including a cholesterol exam.
Foods That Fight Cholesterol
Want to lower your dietary cholesterol? Look to your dinner plate. Affinity registered dietitian and nutrition coach Julia Salomón, MS, RD, CD, offers some helpful strategies.
Soluble fiber: Soluble fiber aids in digestion and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. Soluble fiber-rich foods include flax seeds, barley, oat bran, beans, potatoes and Brussel sprouts to name a few. Julia advises slowly increasing your fiber intake over the course of two to three weeks to give your body time to adapt. "As you increase your fiber intake, also increase your fluid intake," she adds.
Plant sterols and stanols: These are substances found naturally in some grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. They help lower LDL cholesterol, and manufacturers are now adding them to other foods including margarine, juice, cereal and more.
Unsaturated fats: "An effective way to 'fight' cholesterol is to lower your intake of saturated and trans fats and instead include unsaturated fats," Julia says. Replace butter with cooking oils such as sunflower, soybean, canola or safflower oil, and use olive oil in salads rather than less healthy dressings.
A note about fats: Polyunsaturated fats tend to lower LDL slightly more than monounsaturated fats; however, too much polyunsaturated fat can also lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which is not desirable. "We want high HDL, the 'good' cholesterol," Julia says. Monounsaturated fats lower LDL and tend not to affect HDL levels. Foods such as olives, nuts and avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats.
As with any type of fat, Julia advises, moderation is key. "Drizzle oil on your salads, DON'T pour!"
Omega 3 fatty acids: These kinds of essential fats (needed but not made by our bodies) may reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega 3 fatty acids are one type of polyunsatured fats. Foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids include walnuts, soy, flax seeds, and cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring.
Lean protein: Julia recommends replacing meats and cheese with fish, skinless poultry or legumes. "Try to have a meatless day once or twice a week," she says. "Include fish or seafood once or twice a week as well."
Carbohydrates: In addition to incorporating 'cholesterol-fighting' foods to your diet, Julia recommends cutting down on foods that have a lot of added sugars such as sodas, pastries and the like. Limiting highly refined grains may help as well, since these types of carbohydrates tend to raise triglyceride levels in some people. "Try to make half of your grains whole grains."
Weight: if you are overweight, losing weight can have an impact on lowering blood cholesterol levels. Being overweight has been associated with increasing your levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. "Losing just 10 percent of your body weight if you are overweight can have a big impact on your cholesterol and your overall health," Julia adds.
Exercise! Last but not least, regardless of your diet, exercise is a tremendous help in reducing cholesterol. Aim to incorporate a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise three to five days a week.
Back to School: Signs of Stress in Kids
Kids are under a lot of pressure these days. As yours head back to school--including homework, sports, extracurricular activities and social factors--it's normal for children and teens to feel tired or busy. But be on the lookout for signs of unhealthy stress. These may include:
- Unusual behavior changes, including mood swings, irritability, or withdrawing from favorite activities
- Worrying or complaining more than usual about school
- Clinging to a parent or teacher
- Sleeping or eating too much or not enough
- Abandoning long-time friendships
- Acting excessively hostile toward parents or siblings
- Frequent headaches or stomachaches, for which a doctor finds no other cause
- Speaking negatively about themselves ("I'm stupid," or "Nobody likes me")
Source: American Psychological Association
Often these issues can be overcome with open communication and encouragement from parents and teachers. But when you feel your child needs extra help coping, seek the advice of a trained counselor. Call your EAP, or for more severe or specialized pediatric mental health care needs, call Catalpa Health at (920) 750-7000.
|Link a Pinky: Breast Cancer Awareness Month|
Affinity Health System is gearing up to "Link a Pinky" in honor of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All month long, special activities are planned to raise awareness of breast and ovarian cancer risks, treatment, and the importance of early detection. Many events are family-friendly, or perfect for grabbing a girlfriend and enjoying a fun ladies' outing.
Oct. 5, Appleton Farm Market booth
Oct. 12, "No Sweat, Keep Your Cool" menopause event at Bridgewood Resort in Neenah
Oct. 12, B104 and Laydwel Carpet One "Tell Breast Cancer to Buzz Off" event
Oct. 15, "Link a Pinky" breast/ovarian cancer awareness event, a healthy happy hour
Oct. 19, "Sing for Life" concert by newVoices (formerly White Heron Chorale)
For a complete calendar of activities and event details, click here
|Breakfast With the Experts|
Health Care Reform: Affordable Care Act Updates
Presented by Robert Simandl, JD
Simandl Law Group, S.C.
Wednesday, Sept. 18
7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah
Robert Simandl, of the boutique labor and employment firm of the Simandl Law Group, S.C., will discuss the current status of the Affordable Care Act and the actions employers must take given the ever-changing responsibilities of compliance. Bob will discuss how the delay of the "pay or play" rules has impacted employer planning and plan design, and the operational issues and considerations facing employers. Bob will also discuss the mandates under the Affordable Care Act that remain in effect despite the deferral of the "pay or play" effective dates.
Specifically, Bob will address:
1. New "pay or play" date for compliance
2. Early renewal pitfalls and problems to delay legal responsibilities
3. The aspects of the Affordable Care Act not delayed by action of the administration
4. Employer resources and benefit planning options and alternatives
5. "To Do" for all employers
To register for this free seminar, contact Stefanie Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org
Give Whole Grains a Try
September is Whole Grains Month. Do you know what "whole grain" means?
A whole grain is the entire seed or "kernel" of the plant, consisting of three edible parts--the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Whole grain foods provide more protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals than grains that are processed to remove the bran and the germ.
Whole grains are easy to add to your meals and favorite recipes! Here's how.
- When your baked goods call for white or all-purpose flour, substitute half the flour with whole wheat flour.
- Replace one-third of a recipe's flour with quick oats or old-fashioned oats.
- Add wild rice, brown rice or barley to your canned or homemade soup.
- In burgers, meatballs or meatloaf, add ¾ cup of uncooked oats per pound of ground meat.
- Stir a handful of uncooked oats in your yogurt for added crunch.
- But whole-grain pasta instead of refined white pasta.
- Try whole-grain breads or pitas instead of white bread. Kids like it!
Source: Whole Grains Council
To find a list of products containing whole grains, check out this handy Whole Grains Product Finder from the Whole Grains Council.
Get Your Eyes Checked
By Brian Harrison, MD, medical director of Health and Productivity Management for Affinity Health System
Good eye health is an important part of work place safety! Think about people whizzing around the plant on tow motors. These drivers need good vision for good public safety, just like drivers on the streets do. For example, the Department of Transportation requires that truck drivers be able to see 20/40 in each eye, or better, and have 70 degrees of side vision in each eye. Safe tow motor driving requires good vision, too. If you drive a tow motor, your side vision ought to be good enough that when you are in your car, looking straight ahead through the windshield, you should still be able to see things pass by through the side windows, without needing to turn your head or your gaze. If you can't see as well as that, then have a full exam by your eye care provider.
A thorough eye exam includes:
Tests of your vision
A painless test for glaucoma ("the sneak thief of sight")
A dilated eye exam (drops to widen the pupil, for the doctor to see your retina)
--during your twenties, you should have this full exam at least twice
--during your thirties, at least three times
--during your forties, at least four times
--after age fifty, every one or two years
Have the dilated exam even more often if you have special risks, such as:
--Diabetes, which is a leading cause of blindness, and requires an annual exam
--Previous eye trauma or eye surgery
--Family history of glaucoma
--African American descent, which increases glaucoma risk
To keep your good vision, protect your eyes at work. Every day in the U.S., more than 2,000 people suffer eye injuries at work. Temporary or permanent vision loss will happen in up to 10 percent of these people. And, about 90 percent of these injuries could have been prevented with proper eye protection.
The best defense is good preparation! When starting a job, anticipate hazards it may cause, such as flying objects (bits of metal or glass), moving tools, dust and other particles, chemicals, and harmful radiation. Then eliminate these hazards as well as you are able before starting the task. Use machine guards, work screens, splash guards, and other engineering controls to best advantage. Keep your distance! And use proper eye protection. Never use a carpentry hammer to strike anything other than nails or other hardened steel. Never hit a chisel without eye goggles.
Wear safety eyewear whenever there is a chance of an eye injury. Even if you are just passing through an eye hazard area, protective eye wear must be worn.
Use the right type of eye wear. Side shields are needed wherever flying particles, flying objects, or dust might contaminate your eyes. But, this isn't enough if you are working with chemicals; you will then need goggles. If welding, always lower the welding visor, no matter how brief the welding job or how quick you think you are with your tools. Less than one second of welding flash will cause severely painful flash burns. And, you won't know you burned your eyes until several hours later. That will mean a trip to the doctor, sometimes even the emergency department, in the middle of the night. Very inconvenient - and very painful!
If you, a co-worker, or a family member suffers an eye injury, proper first aid can save valuable time and possibly prevent vision loss. When working with chemicals, whether at work or at home, always know where eye washing can be done. It is best to have a first aid kit with a commercial bottle of eye wash at home and at work. If chemicals splash into the eye, immediately flush it with water or any other drinkable liquid that is immediately available. Hold the eye under a faucet or shower, or pour water into the eye with a clean container. Keep the eye open and as wide as possible while flushing. Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes. Remember, the solution to pollution is dilution!
The key is to flush immediately. Don't stop to remove a contact lens; just begin flushing over the lens immediately, it may even wash out. Eye drops are no substitute! This takes gallons of water, not just a few drops of contact lens solution.
Seek immediate medical treatment after 15 or more minutes of flushing. Also, seek treatment if any specks in the eye do not wash out. If anyone is struck on the eye, seek medical attention if there is reduced vision, black eye, or continuing pain. See a doctor at once if anything cuts or punctures the eye, especially a flying particle.
Want to know more about eye safety, eye problems, and taking care of your work site? Visit http://www.preventblindness.org/ and go to "Vision Learning Center." And don't forget - get your eyes checked!
Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team
Holly Tomlin, manager of wellness and employer solutions for Affinity Occupational Health, enjoys building relationships with clients while finding creative solutions for their needs. Holly's background includes 15 years of experience in the health care field, with a strong background in employee assistance programs and occupational health. As a certified massage therapist, Holly has a special interest in educating others on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including wellness and prevention initiatives.
Tammy Davis, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, provides corporate clients with valuable information regarding services offered through Affinity Occupational Health. She works closely with clients to determine their specific needs for health and wellness services. Tammy has a bachelor's degree in business administration from UW Oshkosh and over 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and customer service.
Cindy Budiac, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, is available to help clients determine the right services and programs for their needs. Cindy has more than 15 years of experience in clinical health care, sales and business development. As our newest account manager, Cindy looks forward to meeting you and partnering on all your occupational health needs.
To contact Holly, Tammy or Cindy, call the Affinity Occupational Health office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.