Organic foods may be right for you

Eating healthy is always a good choice, but are some healthy options better than others? That’s a question that has led some to replace traditional fruits and vegetables with those that are grown organically.

It is not clear if organic food is more nutritious than conventionally produced food. A recent study suggests that the nutrient content is comparable between the two, though research is ongoing. However, there remain many other benefits to eating organically.

Many people choose to eat organic food to avoid pesticides that are used by conventional growers. Farmers spray pesticides to protect their crops from molds, insects and diseases, but the process can leave a residue on produce. According to the USDA, organic food carries significantly fewer pesticides than conventional produce.

Another factor to consider is that regulations governing organic foods severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids and fortifying agents that are commonly found in nonorganic foods. These can include preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings.

Organic food also has an environmental impact, as organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving both water and soil quality.

If you do choose to make the switch the organic foods, however, it is important to keep in mind that organic foods do tend to cost a little more and – because they aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives – may spoil faster. They can also look less uniform and can come in odd shapes, colors and sizes. No matter what form they come in, however, all organic foods pass the same quality and safety standards of conventional foods.

Additional information about organic foods can be found by visiting

SOMC Pediatric Associates accepting book donations

The office of SOMC Pediatric Associates is on its way to becoming a “Reach Out and Read” site.

“Reach Out and Read” is a nationwide program that promotes early literacy and school readiness in children ages 6-months to 5-years by giving books to patients who come in for “well” check-up visits. The program builds on the unique relationship between pediatric parents and medical providers and serves more than 4 million children and their families annually.

To become a “Reach Out and Read” site, SOMC Pediatric Associates must collect 1,000 books. To meet this goal, the office hosted a book drive during the month of May and is still accepting new and gently-used donations. Community members who would like to make a donation can drop off their books at the SOMC Pediatric Associates office, located on the First Floor of the Fulton Building on the SOMC Main Campus.

Community members are also invited to support SOMC Pediatric Associates by eating at the River House from 5 to 9 p.m. June 2. Ten-percent of all dine-in and carry-out orders made that evening at the restaurant will go toward the purchase of books for the Pediatric Associates office.


The River House is located at 711 Second Street, Portsmouth. To learn more, please visit or call 740-354-7788. For more information about the Reach Out and Read program, please visit

Community invited to SOMC’s Healthy Exchange

Southern Ohio Medical Center is offering a way to help community members learn more about asthma treatment with an event called SOMC’s Healthy Exchange.

SOMC’s Healthy Exchange will feature Dr. Nadia Chammas, M.D., and SOMC President and CEO, Randy Arnett.

Dr. Chammas, a physician at SOMC Pulmonary & Critical Care Associates, will be speaking about asthma and focusing on the symptoms, triggers and treatments. Following Dr. Chammas’ presentation, Arnett will be discussing the benefits of corporate wellness programs.

SOMC’s Healthy Exchange will be held at the Scioto County Welcome Center on May 21 from 7:30am-8:30am. The event will be free and open to the public.

For more information, visit or like SOMC on Facebook at

Gardening makes for great exercise

Getting exercise does not have to be a complicated or difficult activity. It doesn’t have to involve gym memberships, expensive equipment or lengthy routines. In fact, you can exercise and eat healthier with one simple step: Gardening.

Gardening lends itself to a healthier diet because it can provide an abundance of fruits and vegetables, but it is also an excellent form of exercise. That’s because it combines three important types of physical activity: strength, endurance and flexibility.

When gardening, work at a steady, constant speed, but change positions every ten minutes or so to avoid overusing any particular muscle group. If you start by bending down to pull weeds, stand to prune the hedges next. Here are some other tips to get the most out of your experience:

  • Before starting, warm up by taking a short walk around the yard or down the block. This will get the blood flowing to your muscles.
  • Rake in front of your body to target your shoulders. Make sure you rake both left and right to use your arms evenly – it will also help you prevent blisters by avoiding repetitive motions!
  • If you’re using a wheelbarrow to haul yard waste, soil or mulch, take an extra loop or two around the garden before setting it down.
  • Instead of using a small watering can, take the heavy hose with you.
  • When lifting, bend your knees and keep your back straight!
  • When digging, switch back and forth between hands so that you utilize both arms.
  • To protect your skin, wear plenty of sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt and pants and a wide-brimmed hat.

You can reap the maximum health benefit from gardening by doing things the old fashioned way. Turn off the leaf blower and pick up a rake, or use manual clippers, trippers and lawnmowers. You should also space your activity out. Rather than having one long day of gardening on the weekend, plan to work it for at least 30-60 minutes two or three times a week.

The benefits of gardening are tremendous. Beyond facilitating a healthy life, it also has the added benefit of saving you money at the grocery store and letting you enjoy the beautiful weather of spring!

Amazing Race draws 45 teams

SOMC’s first ever Amazing Race drew 45 teams, each competing for the chance to win $2,500.

They faced challenges that ranged from completing a fast food order and changing a tire to solving cryptograms and guessing calorie content. Local sponsors included YEI, Shawnee State University, American Savings Bank, Glockner and Schmidt Family Restaurants.

“The team at SOMC put together another community-wide event that really showcased what Portsmouth has to offer,” Tim Glockner of Glockner Enterprises said. “We were excited to co-sponsor alongside the very best in healthcare, education, banking, dining and cutting-edge technology; all for a great cause.

“I truly see the Amazing Race evolving into a much larger event while raising awareness for the SOMC Development Foundation and its mission to satisfy our community’s health and wellness needs.”

The first-place team was the Super Troopers, who finished with a total time of one hour and three minutes. They were followed by the GOAL Diggers in second and RCC in third. The SOMC Development Foundation developed the event and all proceeds went towards its Health and Wellness Fund, which supports health and wellness opportunities in the community.

“Our sponsors did a great job of coming up with a series of creative, challenging tasks,” Wendi Waugh, director of SOMC Community Health and Wellness, said. “They made this event unique, and those that competed made it a success.”

A total of $5,000 in prizes – donated by the event’s sponsors – were distributed. For more information, visit

How to deal with sunburn

As the weather begins to warm and the sun reappears, it can be very tempting to go outside and finally enjoy the comforts of spring. However, as pleasant as the sun’s rays may feel, it’s important to remember that they can be dangerous if you fail to take the proper precautions.

Sunburns look bad, hurt, peel and inflict long-lasting, wrinkle-inducing damage. It can more serious consequences, too – it can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

In fact, a person’s risk for melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer – doubles if you have five or more sunburns. This statistic is even more troubling when combined with the fact that 42% of people report getting sunburn at least once a year.

If you begin feeling the tale-tell tingling of a burn, or see any sign of skin reddening, get out of the sun and begin treatment. Remember, it can take up to six hours for the symptoms of a sunburn to develop so what may not seem like a big deal now could easily become one later.

After a cool shower or bath, slather on a moisturizing cream or lotion to soothe the skin. Repeat frequently to make peeling and flaking less noticeable, and consider a product containing vitamin C and vitamin E. This could help limit skin damage. It’s okay to use a hydrocortisone cream for a day or two to relieve discomfort, but it’s not okay to scrub, pic, or peel your skin or to break the blisters.

Burns of all natures draw fluid to the skin surface and away from the rest of the body, so you’ll need to drink extra water, juice or sports drinks for a couple of days.

For the most part, you’ll be able to treat your sunburn at home, but if a blistering burn covers 20% or more of your body then you should seek medical attention. Anyone suffering from fevers and chills should also seek medical help.

Following these steps may help reduce the damage of a sunburn, but the best way to combat its dangers remains to avoid burns themselves.

Getting the most out of your sunscreen

Sunscreen can, literally, be a life saver – but only if selected and applied correctly.

In general, it is advisable to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. To ensure you get the full effect, however, you need to apply about one ounce (or the amount of a full shot glass). Studies show that most people only apply a quarter to a half of that amount, meaning that they’re actually getting much less of the SPF than what is advertised on the bottle.

During a long day at the beach, one person should use one quarter to one half of an eight-ounce bottle.

You’ll also need to apply sunscreen thirty minutes before going into the sun, and reapply it every two hours. You should also reapply immediately after swimming, toweling off or sweating a great deal. Always apply just as much sunscreen when reapplying as you did initially.

Sunscreen is essential, regardless of age or how cloudy the sky may appear. It is a common misconception that sunscreen isn’t necessary on cloudy days. In reality, 40% of the sun’s UV radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day. Those who assume that most of our exposure to the sun comes as children, meaning that it is too late to make a difference later in life, are also mistaken. In fact, it is men over the age of 40 who spend the most time outdoors and get the highest annual doses of UV rays.

Additional information about sunscreen and skin cancer be found at

Hike for Hospice t-shirts on sale

The 28th annual Hike for Hospice will take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 17 at the SOMC Hospice Center. Check-in will begin at 8:30 a.m.

“Hike for Hospice is a significant fundraiser for SOMC Hospice. The Hike provides an opportunity for community members to gather together, honor their loved ones and support an amazing organization,” Hospice Relations Coordinator Scott Hilbert said. “We are looking forward to this year’s hike. It always generates a large crowd and a lot of fun.”

Participants of the hike raise funds by asking friends to sponsor an amount per kilometer walked or by giving an outright donation. Participants also can join in groups of three or more, presenting banners, shirts or other forms of team-promotion.

Each team will receive one complimentary 8×10 photo and all hikers and supporters will be eligible for various prizes, which will be presented at the end of the hike.

Hike for Hospice T-shirts are available and can be purchased from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 28 – May 1 in the Lobby on the Main Campus or from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 28 – May 17 in the Gibson Building on the East Campus. Cost per shirt is $12 for sizes S—XL or $13 for sizes XXL—XXXL. Shirts can be purchased in bright pink, safety yellow or white. Cash and check will be accepted.

Early registration is encouraged but hikers can also register the day of the event. For more information, please call 740-356-2651.

How to recognize and avoid skin cancer

Skin cancer is, by far, the most common type of cancer. In fact, it accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. Every year, there are more than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer diagnosed. The most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma, will account for more than 76,000 cases in 2014.

Skin cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells that occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations or genetic defects.

While there are various types of skin cancer, many are caused by excess exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Fortunately, it is entirely possible to prevent and avoid this type of damaging exposure. Simple steps you can take to protect your skin include:

  • Seeking the shade, especially between 10 am and 4 pm;
  • Avoiding tanning and UV tanning booths;
  • Using a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended activity, use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher;
  • Apply 1 ounce of sunscreen to your entire body thirty minutes before going outside – then reapply every two hours, and;
  • Keep newborns out of the sun, and make sure you use sunscreen on babies over the age of six months

Avoiding sunburns is also pivotal to avoiding skin cancer, especially for children. Even one blistering sunburn can double a child’s lifetime risk of melanoma. Five or more sunburns will double the rates of melanoma even in adults.

Exposure to UV rays is not the only risk factor for skin cancer, however. Other risk factors include having a family history, multiple or unusual moles, pale skin or workplace exposure to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds or radium.

The signs and symptoms of skin cancer include any change on your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole. Having a sore that doesn’t heal or the spread of pigmentation (color) beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark, are also signs.

For additional information about skin cancer, visit or