The Importance of Strong, Healthy Bones

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Wednesday, May 02, 2012
This post was written by Spirit of Women and contributed by Celia Gonzalez, Community Relations/Senior Wellness Coordinator at Saint Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center. She can be contacted at

Maintaining strong, healthy bones is essential as we grow older.

Hips not only provide shape and support, but also enable movement of the pelvis area and lower extremities, making them among the most important parts in the body.  Daily doses of calcium and vitamin D, along with exercise, can help the body fight against bone loss.  Thirty minutes of physical activity each day is recommended. Dancing, whether it’s Zumba, Salsa or Ballroom Dancing, is a great form of exercise that strengthens the bones and muscles in the legs and hips, lowers risk of heart disease and helps with weight loss.

Did you know?
  • Osteoporosis affects approximately ten million Americans.  This disease silently weakens the bones, which increases the chances of fractures, and is common in older women.

  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta is a genetic disorder that causes the bones to break very easily.  It can cause weak muscles, brittle teeth, a curved spine and hearing loss.

  • Paget's Disease causes the bones in your body to grow larger and weaker than normal.  Other symptoms include arthritis and hearing loss.

  • Osteoarthrosis (aka degenerative joint disorder) is the most common form of arthritis and occurs when cartilage in your joints is worn down over time.

Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center

2233 W. Division 
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 770-2000

Health Spotlight: Metabolic Syndrome

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Wednesday, April 04, 2012

This blog entry was contributed by: Mary C. Cafarelli, Supervisor Cardiac Rehab Services. You can contact her at: Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center -

What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is not a disease in itself. Instead, it's a group of risk factors -- high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat.

Obviously, having any one of these risk factors isn't good. But when they're combined, they set the stage for grave problems. These risk factors double your risk of blood vessel and heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. They increase your risk of diabetes by five times.

Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome

According to the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are five risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome.

To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you would have at least three of these risk factors.

Large Waist Size

For men: 40 inches or larger

For women: 35 inches or larger


Cholesterol: High Triglycerides


150 mg/dL or higher


Using cholesterol medication


Cholesterol: Low HDL

(good cholesterol)


For men: Less than 40 mg/dL

For women: 50 mg/dL


Using cholesterol medication

High Blood Pressure


Having blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or greater

Using high blood pressure medicine

Blood Sugar: High Fasting

Glucose Level

100 mg/dL or higher

What Causes Metabolic Syndrome?

It's a collection of risk factors, not a single disease. So it probably has many different causes. Some risk factors are:

Insulin resistance - A hormone that helps your body use glucose -- a simple sugar made from the food you eat -- as energy. In people with insulin resistance, the insulin doesn't work as well so your body keeps making more and more of it to cope with the rising level of glucose, leading to diabetes.  Insulin resistance is closely connected to having excess weight in the belly.

Obesity - especially abdominal obesity.  Having extra fat in the belly -- as opposed to elsewhere in the body -- seems to increase your risk.

Unhealthy lifestyle - Eating a diet high in fats and not getting enough physical activity can play a role.

Hormonal imbalance - Hormones may play a role. For instance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) -- a condition that affects fertility -- is related to hormonal imbalance and metabolic syndrome.

If you've just been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, don’t be anxious. It's time to get serious about improving your health. Making simple changes to your habits now can prevent serious illness in the future.

How do I prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome?

Lose weight - Moderate weight loss, in the range of 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight, can help restore your body's ability to recognize insulin and greatly reduce the chance that the syndrome will evolve into a more serious illness. 

Exercise - Increased activity alone can improve your insulin levels. Aerobic exercise such as a brisk 30-minute daily walk can result in a weight loss, improved blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of developing diabetes. Most health care providers recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. 

Dietary changes - Maintain a diet that keeps carbohydrates to no more than 50 percent of total calories. Eat foods defined as complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread, brown rice, and sugars that are unrefined. Increase your fiber consumption by eating legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Reduce your intake of red meats and poultry. Consume healthy fats such as those in canola oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and nuts. 

Limit alcohol intake - Consume no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men.

Important Safety Announcement

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, February 02, 2012

This blog entry was contributed by Tom Stachula, Chicago Police Officer of the 14th District.

There is a local problem developing now that needs attention. Recently, robberies have picked up in the Wicker Park area. These robberies are not occurring in businesses, but to single individuals (mostly female) on the streets in our area. These attacks are occurring overnight and in the early hours of the morning. We need people to get the word out that these robberies are occurring...

(Individuals) walking the streets at night or in the early morning by themselves is not safe. I do understand that some people have no choice. This information should be used by everyone, and every time you walk the streets alone. Try to use public transportation, EL train, bus or even a taxi. 

Be aware of your surroundings, who is on the street, is the street well lit. Please do not walk down alleys at night, try to stay on the busy streets. Do not walk around with ear piece's for I-pods, telephones or headsets on. You can not hear offenders approaching you with these items preoccupying your attention. This is tough to do since many people are accustomed to their way of doing things. The better prepared you are, the less likely you will become a victim. If you have to walk the street at these times have some form of personal protection with you. Purchase a canister of mace, and carry it in your hand until you get to your destination. Carry an item that makes a lot of noise, a whistle, hand held air-horn something that will scare off your attacker. If the street is that quiet, walk down the middle of the street. This will give you more time to react if an offender approaches you. Always be thinking of escape routes if approached. Carry your cell phone in your hand with a pre dialed 911, so all you have to do is hit send. this will save you time in dialing and always know where you are. ex: the 1600 block of Damen. this crucial since you will be under pressure when attacked, you will not have to think about it you can just scream it into the phone and help will be on the way. Better safe than sorry.

None of these methods are a guarantee that nothing can happen to you, they are just some tips to lessen your chances of being a victim. Hopefully these are some helpful tips to try and ensure your safety. Working together we can make Wicker Park safer for all of us.

The Potential Negative Effects of Bad Breath on Valentine's Day

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This blog entry was contributed by: Dr. Melissa Daza, owner of Bucktown Wicker Park Dental. She can be reached at

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many people will be thinking of that special someone to spend the day with.

Maybe a romantic dinner for two is your thing or maybe just spending time together doing your
favorite past time. Regardless of your plans, being in close proximity with someone, the one thing you
don’t want to worry about is having bad breath. Bad breath can be caused by many different factors
not just from food like garlic and onions. Alcohol and smoking can also contribute to bad breath. In
addition, certain medication that has been prescribed by your doctor, an infection in the mouth, or a
sign of an underlining medical condition that needs to be address can manifest itself through a malodor
in the mouth. This topic – sometimes embarrassing – could be signs that a needed check up with your
dentist or physician is in order.

The Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath, also called halitosis, can be caused by a multitude of factors. Definitely, some types of
food you eat can leave an odor in your mouth. What you eat affects the air you exhale. Food you eat
releases plant oil and by products that are absorbed into the bloodstream. It is transferred to the lungs
where it is expelled. The odor will continue to be there until the body rids itself of the food. Dieters of
a high protein, low-carb diet may develop unpleasant breath by producing a condition called ketosis.
This type of diet produces ketones which build up in the body. Some are released through breath which
unfortunately doesn’t smell particularly great. But if the food is collected between the teeth and left
in the mouth from not brushing and flossing daily then the food can rot. A sulfur compound builds
up from the food remains causing chronic bad breath. This in turn can develop into gum disease, or

Other things beside certain food can also contribute to bad breath. Dry mouth, known as xerostomia,
can cause saliva to decrease and contribute to bad breath. Saliva cleans the mouth and removes some
food particles that may cause odor. Dry mouth can be caused by various medications, salivary gland
problems, snoring, or even by continuously breathing through your mouth.

Systemic illness can manifest itself from bad breath. Non-dental disorders causing bad breath could be
an infection in the respiratory tract, (nose, throat, esophagus, lungs), chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip,
chronic bronchitis, stress, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, or ailments from the liver or kidney.


If are experiencing bad breath, the first course of action is to take care of your oral health. Brushing
your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes removes food debris and plaque. In particular, brushing
your tongue can greatly remedy this problem. Use floss to clean between the teeth at least once a day.
Sugarless gums that contain xylitol may kill some bacteria and reduce plaque buildup. See your dentist
for regular checkups and professional cleanings. Certain mouth rinses maybe necessary and can be
recommended by your dentist. Natural remedies can be chewing certain herbs such as parsley, mint, basil or thyme. These herbs curb offending smells from food. Eating cranberries make plaque less likely
to form on teeth. 

If you are experiencing dry mouth, drink plenty of water or liquids, and possibly use toothpaste and mouth rinse that are specifically made for dry mouth. Ask your dentist for suggestions if you are uncertain. If it is your medication that is causing your dry mouth, ask your physician if an alternative medication can be used. During spring and summer, allergy medication, can be a major culprit. Try using a humidifier in the winter to eliminate the dry air.

If after the dentist determines that your bad breath is not dental related, then a trip to your favorite physician maybe in order.

Remember, 90% of mouth odors come from the mouth itself. Maintaining good oral health will reduce
bad breath. Scheduling regular dental visits for a professional cleaning and an exam should be your first
step. If you have persistent bad breath, try keeping a log of the foods you eat and the medications you
take. Also, make sure to let your dentist know if you’ve had surgery or any illness. Lastly, if your dentist
determines that your mouth is healthy, then a referral to your physician may be necessary.

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