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Any teacher would know firsthand that schools contain extensive amounts of germs. Newsletters are sent out on a regular basis with a note of caution to parents that strep throat or lice is going around. According to the CDC, elementary students can have anywhere from eight to twelve cases of the flu or a cold each school year. Students older than that can get about four to six cases of the flu or cold each year.

"Its stunning how many kids touch their faces and then touch other kids," said Dr. Harley Rotbart. "This is a very touchy-feely demographic and that's who we share germs... and the little ones don't have the same exposure to germs that we do, so until their immune systems get built up, they get sick."

According to Dr. Rotbard, the place in a school that contains the most germs is actually the water fountain. It does not get cleaned as frequently so actually contains more germs than a toilet. Consider having your kid bring their own water bottle to school as a great way to avoid the drinking fountain and potentially a few colds.

Another item to suggest your kids watch out for are cafeteria trays. They are not sanitized as well as they could be and children eat off of them. Using hand sanitizer before your child eats could be very helpful in keeping them healthy.

Children in school should also be getting enough sleep. The CDC recommends 10-11 hours of sleep every single night. If a child is sleep deprived their immune system will not work as well as it could.

Another recommendation is to have your kids wash their hands well. But how do we know what is a good amount of time? Have your kids sing happy birthday or say the alphabet while washing their hands instead of counting. 20 seconds is the recommended amount of time.

Skipping the video games to get exercise in may also be a helpful way to keep away from the germs. If your student has recess that is a great time for them to run around and exercise.

Keeping away from the flu and colds do not need to be difficult. Try these tips this school year!

16682 SPRAY TAN Everyone will tell you they look better when they have a tan.  Whether it's because they were just back from vacation and rested, or felt the darker skin against a white top highlighted their smile, the basic thought is a tan looks healthy.  But with the American Academy of Dermatology recommending people stay out of the sun for obvious skin cancer risks.  Many people are opting for what they believe is healthier, a spray tan.

Dr. Janet Hill Prystowsky is a board-certified dermatologist with over 25 years of experience in dermatology and dermatologic surgery chatted with our team about the problems of spray tans.

The top 3 negative points about spray tans:

  1.  They do not protect you from sun damage
  2. The chemical used may be a carcinogen when it comes in contact with the respiratory tact and eyes. (There is concern that it may penetrate the dead skin cell layer and get into living skin cells also and possibly be carcinogenic.)
  3. The chemical, DHA, was never approved for use in the spray form. It was approved for application to the skin as a lotion.
  4. Basically, people should be wearing SPF50 year round, not just in the summer months to protect their skin. 


sarahaley 2

Dr. Janet Hill Prystowsky is a board-certified dermatologist with over 25 years of experience in dermatology and dermatologic surgery. She obtained a Ph.D from Columbia University in Human Nutrition, an M.D. from the University of Chicago, and completed her training in dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Prystowsky is a senior attending physician at Mount Sinai Roosevelt/St. Luke’s Medical Center. In 2008 she started her own skin care line as president of LIVAD Skin Care, LLC. Learn more at http://www.janetprystowskymd.com/




Keeping active can be more fun if you get the entire family involved. There are so many things that you can do together and reap the benefits of better relationships and healthier bodies. 

Let’s Get it Started

The first step in getting started is setting a designated time throughout the week. Once planned into your week, accountability is essential for continued success. Journaling activities helps everyone see their progress. One way to keep track is to start a weekly log or chart for all to tally their activities. Younger children can color in a thermometer to signify burning calories while older teenagers can just log minutes in a small journal at the end of each week.

When planning activities, keep in mind to do things that makes each family member feel successful and that you adapt the activities age appropriately. Emphasize the importance of having fun rather than winning or losing when playing physical games. Taking turns to decide “what” the family activity is to engage each week is another way to get everyone involved. 

Making the Connection

Using these designated times are a great way to check in with each other. Taking a walk together to the park or local coffee shop is one activity before church or scheduled practices that can help strengthen family ties.  My family would take the dog to the forest preserve every Sunday morning and play in the leaves, snow, or puddles.  It gave us time together and helped our children realize how fun it could be to walk. Remember fitness and movement heighten our energies and stimulate social engagement.

Get Out and Play

Sometimes just getting off the couch to change the channel and limiting television viewing can be a good start in getting your family to exercise. Also, spending time outside almost always translates into movement so get you and your kids out the door and into the yard. There are so many games you can play like “Hide and Seek” and “Freeze Tag.” Making exercise fun makes all the difference in the world.  Counting jumps on a pogo stick or counting hula hoop rotations brings an element of competition and more fun! Keep in mind that for younger children it is important to have designated indoor and outdoor play areas where rolling, jumping, kicking, bouncing and tumbling are allowed. These types of activities can be used as rewards instead of food as well, instilling more healthy habits.  

All Grown Up

Teenagers and young adults will have different ideas on exercise. It’s not enough to get them off the sofa. They may enjoy more of the video gaming and traditional health club activities that adults enjoy too. Creating a contest among family members is one way to get everyone involved. One idea is to see who logs the most minutes of healthy habits including exercise, meditation and meaningful rest as well. My family has fun running together, lifting weights, and going rock climbing too. We still do family walks and even play video games together. 

Living healthy and moving daily will give you more energy, help build self esteem and help you to live longer. Making time with your family matters and creates wonderful memories, but only you can make it happen.

For more health tips from me, visit AndreaMetcalf.com.


placenta newsIf you’re just about to have that baby or recently had your bundle of joy, you may have heard of saving your placenta. After birth many new moms are hanging onto their placentas and having them encapsulated into a pill. Then, they start taking them like daily supplements in an effort to boost energy, increase milk production, balance hormones, and even prevent postpartum depression.

But you may want to hold off on this complicated procedure. According to Rachel Vreeman, MD, assistant professor at Indiana University School of Medicine and co-author of “Don't Swallow Your Gum", “there's no science to suggest that consuming placenta will stave off childbirth complications or depression”. She adds, “Cooking or dehydrating the organ actually destroys any beneficial hormones and chemicals it might contain. Sure, there are anecdotes from women who say it works, but others say the pills worsened their symptoms.”

Try these simple tips to avoid postpartum depression.

  1. Carve out some me time. Although baby will need you most hours, nap-time can be set aside for yourself to have 15 minutes of downtime as well. Try some simple yoga moves or stretches, or sit quietly with a journal. You’ll find this gives you more energy to accomplish the day’s needs.
  2. Make time for your partner. Date nights may be something of the past but resurge those feelings and schedule a date night at least once a month after baby. Hire a sitter or family member to help and remember that even a 30-minute get-a-way can help fuel your passion.
  3. Eat well. It goes without saying that even after baby, if you’re breastfeeding, you’re still eating for two. Make sure you get enough fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to keep your energy up as well as stay hydrated with water or coconut water.

So skip the placenta saving and attend to your new born… these days go by so fast!


let-kids-have-recess-and-adults-too-mainAsk any kid and most will agree that recess is their favorite time of day in school. I remember having a morning recess for 15 minutes and then an afternoon one when I was in grade school. But these days with more focus on reading, writing, computers and math, some schools have opted out of the recess time.