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Research, recipes, news and tips for better, healthier living—created and curated by your friends at Pacific Science Center’s Wellbody Academy.


3 Tips To Save Money By Keeping Kids’ Smiles Healthy

Sugar Swaps: Healthy Alternatives To Foods We Crave

By Bryana Allen | Oct 14, 2015

February is Children’s Oral Health Month and the perfect time to celebrate growing smiles.

Your child’s smile is priceless. But the cost of keeping that smile healthy isn’t some abstract value. On average, dental costs make up 20% of a child’s total health expenses.

Dental care costs can be daunting — but the cost of not having dental care can be detrimental. Almost 1 in 4 children have untreated tooth decay, which can lead to future costs and health problems. What’s more, cavities are nearly 100% preventable.

Protect your child’s smile with these 3 tips:

1. Treat baby teeth like grownup teeth.

Just because we lose our baby teeth doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of them. Baby teeth are place holders for adult teeth and cavities in baby teeth can spread to permanent teeth. Brush baby’s teeth as soon as they emerge and be sure they see the dentist by their first birthday.

2. Invest in preventative care.

The average cost for a child’s checkup is $61 without insurance. The average cavity treatment costs $139 per tooth.

Good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are a great way to help prevent cavities. You can even talk to your child’s dentist about sealants and topical fluoride varnishes to further protect against cavities.

3. Use your dental benefits.

Dental coverage is designed to keep teeth healthy and save you money. Think of it as a maintenance plan for smiles. Not using your benefits for routine exams and cleanings is like skipping an oil change for your car, which can lead to complicated and expensive problems down the road.

Investing in your child’s smile is a worthwhile expense.

Visit DeltaDentalWABlog.com for more tips on keeping smiles healthy.

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Germnasium for a hands-on oral health experience.

How To Avoid Colds & Flu

How To Avoid Colds & Flu

In the midst of cold and flu season, when you’re surrounded by sneezing, wheezing colleagues and kids, it’s small comfort to hear the 2015-16 flu season is so far relatively mild.

Influenza activity is currently rising in King County and across Washington state, but remains at low levels. Anyone interested in numbers, graphs, public health or epidemiology should definitely check out the flu season weekly surveillance reports by Public Health Seattle & King County.

Feeling under the weather? Colds and flu often look alike, sharing many similar symptoms including sore throat, sneezing, fever, running or stuffy nose, body aches and cough. But they are different illnesses caused by different viruses. And since the flu can progress quickly, and even be fatal, it’s important to see your doctor if you suspect flu. Here’s a primer on colds v. flu.

Everyday Ways To Prevent Colds & Flu

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. But good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu and common cold.  Here are six tips to avoid getting sick.

Learn To Wash Your Hands Correctly

Turns out most of us have been washing our hands wrong all our lives! Improper handwashing technique can lead to increased risk of colds, flu, bacterial infections and icky intestinal bouts.

It’s especially scary in hospitals, where 50,000 people die every year from infections related to poor hand hygiene.

But there’s hand-hygiene help! A high-tech training gadget called SureWash uses a Microsoft Kinect camera and video gaming technology developed in Ireland to train medical personnel to correctly wash their hands.

Wellbody Academy’s Germnasium has the only public-use SureWash machine in the world.

Please visit in person and use the SureWash training stations to properly learn the World Health Organization’s recommended handwashing techniques. There’s no extra charge for SureWash or any Wellbody Academy activities: It’s all included in your admission to Pacific Science Center and always free for members. We want to help you stay well.

Wellbody Recipe: Overnight Oatmeal

Wellbody Recipe: Overnight Oatmeal

Say goodbye to hectic mornings that shortchange breakfast when you try these overnight oatmeal sensations: Chocolate chia, carrot cake and blueberry cashew are just a few of the delicious and healthy combos.

And here’s the science behind healthy oatmeal.

Loaded with a type of dietary fiber that helps lower cholesterol, oats can lower the risk of heart disease, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Oats may also help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and lower the risk of colorectal cancer, according to research in The British Medical Journal.

Bonus: Oats are inexpensive and easy to cook. Better yet, skip the cooking! Let time and liquid do the work. (A nutritional benefit of soaking oats overnight is that the process can cut down on naturally occurring phytic acid, a substance that reduces the absorption of some minerals.)

Before bed, whip up a batch of overnight oats in less than three minutes, store it in your refrigerator and it will be ready to eat (or grab and go) in the morning.

The basic recipe calls for stirring together equal amounts of oats and liquid—milk, coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, yogurt, Greek yogurt or warm water—all good.  If you like your oatmeal less dense, add more liquid.

Options: Add a pinch of cinnamon or other spice. Add a handful of fruit (berries, cherries, minced apple, mango, crushed pineapple, diced tangerine segments). Add a spoonful of chia seed and or flax powder. Add vanilla extract, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, nuts, pumpkin seeds, fruit spreads.

The Internet abounds with luscious photos of gussied-up overnight oats, sprinkled with slivered nuts, layered like parfaits, glistening with cherry juice, chia seeds and pillowy Greek yogurt.

Here are some overnight oat combos: strawberry rhubarb, cherry almond, blueberry lemon, cocoa nib and pomegranate, mango and banana, pumpkin persimmon, chocolate cherry.

Carrot Cake Overnight Oats

With no added sugar, this naturally sweet, deluxe morning porridge packs a couple servings of fruits and veggies between the banana, shredded carrots, dates and raisins. And, thanks to cinnamon, nutmeg and coconut, it actually tastes like carrot cake!

1 C oats
1 1/2 C liquid (milk, coconut milk, yogurt, water or any combination)
½ t cinnamon
¼ t nutmeg
½ mashed banana
2/3 C. shredded carrot
1 T coconut unsweetened coconut flakes (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
1 T golden raisins (plus extra for garnish)
2 t chia seeds
1 or 2 dates, diced
1 T diced pineapple (optional)
2 t. pumpkin seeds (plus extra for sprinkling)
zest of ½ orange or lemon (optional)
½ t. lemon juice or 1 T. orange juice (optional)

Mix all ingredients. Allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator. Enjoy hot or cold in the morning. Splash with a little more milk or yogurt and garnish with coconut, pumpkin seeds and raisins to taste.

U.S. Surgeon General Prescribes Happiness, Meditation, Love

U.S. Surgeon General Prescribes Happiness, Meditation, Love

Happiness can help people lead healthier, more fulfilling lives, says U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, citing research that shows happiness can lower risk of heart attack and stroke, lower stress hormones and inflammatory markers and increase the chance of living longer.

By happiness, Murthy doesn’t mean hedonistic or materialistic pleasures. He’s talking about the emotional well-being that stems from fulfillment, social connection and love.

But does happiness lead to better health? Or is it the other way around—with good health setting the stage for happiness?

Turns out only 10 percent of long-term happiness depends on external factors, Murthy says. The remaining 90 percent stems from your outlook and how you choose to process what life brings you.

Murthy advocates four simple, free habits to increase happiness and improve health: gratitude exercises, meditation, physical activity and social connectedness.

Cultivating gratitude can be as simple as jotting down three things you’re grateful for every day. Here are more gratitude exercises from Harvard Medical School. And here’s an ABC News story on the benefits of meditation.

Meditation transformed an impoverished, troubled middle school in California after the school instituted twice-daily 15-minute meditations. Within four years, suspensions fell by 45 percent, attendance climbed to 98 percent, 20 percent of graduates were admitted to one of the city’s elite high schools and, in a survey of San Francisco middle school students, students from the once troubled school recorded the highest levels of happiness in the city.

What’s your experience with happiness, health and mindset? Do you practice any habits of mind that help you feel happier? Are you actively cultivating a support network of friends and family?

Visit The Loft at Wellbody Academy and be sure to check out Who Do You Turn To… a cool way to reflect on your social connections by creating a personalized collage about your friends and family with a computer interactive that asks you thought-provoking questions about your relationships: Who could you talk to if you’re upset? Who could you call if you needed a ride? Who confides their hopes, dreams and fears in you?

Learn more about Murthy’s prescription for happiness. And here’s to your own happiness—and health—in the new year!

Nutrition And Your Smile

Nutrition And Your Smile

2016. A new year. A healthier you?

Eating better is a common resolution people make to get healthier. Some people decide to simply eat fruits and veggies instead of candy and chips. Others decide to change up their entire nutrition plan.

If your resolutions include a complete nutrition makeover, talk to your doctor or nutritionist and your dentist. Many common nutrition plans may cause unintended oral health problems.

Here are some ways they affect your smile:

Low calorie

Eating the same amount of calories you burn is a great way to maintain a healthy weight. But, you have to be careful. Eating less calories than your body needs can impact the amount of vitamins and minerals your body receives. This can lead to malnutrition which can weaken your jawbone, soften your tooth enamel, and harm your gums.

Low carb, high protein

Low carb, high protein diets are popular among athletes because they help build muscle. But, they also can kick your body into ketosis, a state where it burns fat for fuel. As your body starts to burn fat instead of carbohydrates as fuel, it releases chemicals called ketones. High ketone levels often cause chronic bad breath, known as halitosis.

Low fat

Many people think eating less fat is a great way to get healthy. However, eating less fat can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like A, D, E and K. Vitamin D is very important because it helps your body absorb calcium. Your teeth and bones need Vitamin D and calcium to stay strong and healthy.

There are many nutrition plans out there. Knowing the risks before you change the way you eat is a great way to prevent problems for your body and smile.

Be sure to talk to your doctor or nutritionist before changing the way you eat. They’ll be sure your body stays healthy. Also, don’t forget to talk to your dentist. They’ll be sure your smile stays healthy, too.

Wellbody Recipe: The Gift Of Nuts

Roasted Nuts

Photo Credit: flickr user theilr


What’s nut to love? A handful of nuts a day may keep heart disease and strokes away, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who published a large study in The New England Journal of Medicine. (Keep reading for fabulous recipes for Brockett Pecans and Rosemary Chipotle Roasted Almonds, perfect for holiday gifts.)

The study found  that people who eat a handful of nuts daily cut their risk of death from heart disease by 30 percent and from cancer by 11 percent. Other recent, large-scale studies have confirmed the value of nuts as a nutritional powerhouse.

It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of nuts. Even peanuts, which are technically legumes, boosted health. Other nut studies have found that people already eating healthfully who added nuts or olive oil to their diets lived longer, decreased their risk of memory loss, calmed inflammation, had lower blood pressure, better blood sugar levels, fewer gallstones and were leaner.

Scientists are trying to figure out why. Nuts are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, unsaturated (good) fats and antioxidants. The Harvard team is investigating whether nuts’ health benefits are linked to bioactive compounds that impact inflammation and metabolism.

In the meantime, bring on the hazelnuts! And try out these recipes for Rosemary Chipotle Roasted Almonds and Katelyn’s Grandmother’s Pecans.

Brockett Pecans
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups pecan halves
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt

Melt butter in large skillet. Add cumin and cayenne; cook and stir for 1 min. Remove from the heat; stir in the pecans, sugar and salt until well coated. Spread in a single layer in a large greased baking pan. Bake at 300` for 25-30 min. or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Cool and store in airtight container.

Later School Start Times To Let Seattle Teens Sleep In

Seattle will soon become one of the nation’s largest districts to start public high schools later, at 8:45 a.m., to align with teen sleep cycles.

“This is a great win for our students,” Seattle School Board Vice President Sharon Peaslee told The Seattle Times. “We will unleash a torrent of public schools shifting to bell times that make sense for students.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends school days begin after 8:30 a.m. to help teens combat sleep deprivation.

Studies show that adolescents who don’t get enough sleep often suffer physical and mental health problems, an increased risk of automobile accidents and a decline in academic performance. But getting enough sleep each night can be hard for teens whose natural sleep cycles make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. – and who face a first-period class at 7:30 a.m. or earlier the next day.

Earlier this year, after convening experts in the fields of sleep, anatomy, physiology, pediatrics, neurology, gerontology and gynecology, the National Sleep Foundation issued new recommendations calling for increased amounts of sleep in most age categories.

Here are the updated recommendations:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

Few teens currently sleep the recommended eight to 10 hours. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found fewer than a third of high school students sleep eight hours a night.

The urge teens feel to stay up later isn’t completely driven by late-night movies, web surfing and hanging out with friends. Naturally changing circadian rhythms play a strong role.

Younger children tend to feel sleepy between 8 and 10 p.m. because the pineal gland releases melatonin (the hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle) early in the evening. But as children hit puberty, between the ages of 10 and 14, their bodies and brains go through myriad changes, including a delayed release of melatonin, usually 9 to 10 p.m. or later. That means they may have difficulty falling asleep before 11 p.m. This natural shift, called “sleep phase delay,” can wreak havoc by preventing teens from getting a healthy amount of sleep.

Teens whose schedules are crammed with classes, sports, rehearsals, friends and homework may find getting nine or more hours of sleep per night a near impossible feat. One study found that only 15 percent of teens report sleeping at least 8½ hours per night during the week.

But the consequences of teen sleep deprivation are serious, including increased risk of depression, sickness, weight gain and acne. Studies show teens who are sleep deprived don’t learn as well, remember as much, or perform as strongly in sports.

And their risk of car accidents goes up. The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration estimates that every year more than 40,000 injuries, and 1,500 people are killed in the U.S. in crashes caused by drivers who are simply tired. Young people under the age of 25 are far more likely to be involved in drowsy driving crashes. In one survey, half of teens reported driving a car while drowsy over the past year and 15% said they drove drowsy at least once a week.

Here’s an excellent summary article about the teen sleep cycle.

Read Dealing With Teen Sleep Deprivation on Wellbody Blog for tips on resetting a teen’s body clock (including wearing orange goggles at night to block electronic blue light) and embracing healthy sleep hygiene.

Visit Wellbody Academy’s hands-on Slumbertorium to learn about circadian rhythms and for more tips on sleep hygiene and sleep-proofing your bedroom.

The Evolution Of Oral Hygiene

The Evolution Of Oral Hygiene

By Bryana Allen | Nov 18, 2015

Dental History

Throughout history, humans have always searched for ways to care for their teeth. The records reveal as we grow and evolve, so does our understanding of oral hygiene and disease.

Here’s a timeline of highlights from the evolution of oral hygiene:

5,000-3,000 BCE—Ancient texts show that people believed cavities were caused by worms. This belief persisted for nearly 7,000 years. Egyptian tombs reveal people used the frayed ends of twigs and toothpicks to clean their teeth.

500 BCE—The first recipes for toothpastes are written in China and India. Many included herbs and spices like mint and ginseng.

410 CE—By the fall of their Empire, the Romans had mastered restorative dental care. They used gold to make crowns and wires to fix bridges. Read more about the ways Romans cared for their smiles.

1000 CE—Archeological records show little evidence of oral disease among Vikings. Good hygiene was important to them and they used toothpicks to clean their teeth. However, the lack of cavities is mostly due to their diet which consisted mostly of fruits, vegetables, meat and whole grains. The Vikings ate very little refined grains or sugar.

1530 CE—”The Little Medicinal Book for all Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth” is published. It was the first book entirely devoted to dentistry.

1840-90 CE—Dentistry becomes an official field of medicine when the first dental school, Baltimore College School of Dentistry, opened. Also, “modern” toothpaste was born. It was first sold in glass jars. It wasn’t sold in tubes until 1890.

1944-59 CE—Researchers discover that fluoridated water, at low levels, prevents tooth decay.

1960 CE—Water fluoridation becomes a common public health practice. Today, nearly 75% of the US population on community water sources receive fluoridated water.

Fluoridated water and better oral hygiene routines (think daily brushing and flossing) are the reason many of us can expect to keep our teeth for our entire lives! We’re the first generations of humans to make that claim. Help your smile age gracefully by brushing twice a day, flossing before bed and staying on top of your dental check-ups.

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Germnasium for a hands-on, modern oral health experience.

Experience Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland in our PACCAR IMAX Theater to learn more about evolution.


Anderson, T. Dental Treatment in Medieval England. British Dental Journal 197, 419-425 (2004).
Lanfranco, L and Eggers, S. Caries through Time: An anthropological Overview. Laboratório de Antropologia Biológica (2012).

Thankful For Delicious Cranberry Sauce: Sugar-free, Fat-free, Dairy-free, Gluten-free

Tangy gems of the holiday season, cranberries are outranked only by blueberries in protective antioxidants. High in vitamin C and fiber and low in calories, these tart red treats can add a festive and healthy zest to your diet.

Trouble is, cranberries are often paired with unhealthy amounts of sugar. Traditional cranberry bread and cranberry sauce recipes call for almost as much sugar as they do cranberries, and in the past couple years, scientific research has found that even a few extra teaspoons of daily added sugar can be toxic to our bodies. (This study found that relatively modest amounts of sugar negatively impacted the life spans and sex lives of mice.)

That’s why we’re thrilled to share this recipe for an insanely delicious and refreshing sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free cranberry sauce from Kathy Abascal, the Vashon Island biochemist and herbalist who developed an anti-inflammatory diet to quiet the immune system (TQI).

Abascal’s research, along with that of countless other scientists and doctors, points to sugar as a top inflammatory trigger that erodes health. When sugar or other triggers (gluten, dairy and chemical additives are common culprits) flare the immune system, people can suffer all kinds of inflammation-related health woes: weight gain, frozen shoulder, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, sinus congestion, poor sleep, acne, eczema and rashes.

Eliminate the triggers — and pounds and problems can melt away. Why not replace sugar and other inflammatory foods with nutritious fruits and vegetables high in vitamins. fiber and antioxidants? The USDA recommends half your plate be filled with fruits and vegetables; Abascal suggests fruits and veggies comprise 2/3 of each meal and snack.

But what about holiday desserts?  Not to worry, you can still enjoy delicious treats!

Whip up a batch of this cranberry sauce, spoon into small bowls and indulge with toppings: pomegranate seeds (whack-y de-seeding trick), orange zest, coconut flakes , chopped nuts, shaved dark chocolate. Think of it as an Antioxidant Sundae — Happy Holidays!


(Makes about 3 cups)

7 1/2 ounces fresh, organic cranberries
2 organic apples
1 cup organic red grapes
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
1 teaspoon good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 organic orange

Core the apples, but leave peels on, then chop or grate. Cut grapes in half.

Combine cranberries, chopped apples, and grapes in a saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover, and heat gently until cranberries have popped and apple is soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Add the cinnamon and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Grate the zest from the orange (a microplane grater does a fantastic job with this), making sure to only remove the colored part. Add to bowl.

Peel the orange, remove any seeds, and finely chop. Add, along with any juice that accumulates, to the cranberry mixture and stir to combine. Nice warm, even better chilled until cold. Also delicious added to a tossed salad.

Tips For Coping With “Fall Back” Time Change

Tips For Coping With “Fall Back” Time Change

Drat. The movement to abolish daylight saving time hasn’t yet gained enough steam to stop the twice yearly changing of the clocks.

Research shows that messing with our circadian rhythms during the semi-annual back-and-forth results in more heart attacks, traffic accidents, suicides and cyberloafing. Plus, energy studies show daylight saving time actually wastes energy, contrary to its original intent.

The good news is that the autumn time change, when we “fall back” and gain an hour of sleep, offers a chance to tune-up sleep habits. Keep reading for links to research–and tips on how to start preparing your body for disrupted sleep come Nov. 2.

First, figure out how much sleep is enough.

Most adults: 7 – 9 hours a night
Adolescents: 9 – 10 hours
Elementary school children: 10 hours
Preschoolers: 11 – 12 hours
Newborns: 16 – 18 hours

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you risk damaging memory, learning, creativity, productivity, emotional stability and physical health. You’re also more vulnerable to cancer, diabetes, weight gain, colds and flu and car accidents!

Even one hour matters when it comes to shortchanging sleep. In the three days following the spring-forward time change, researchers found a five percent greater risk of heart attacks. After the fall-back time change, there’s an increase in traffic accidents as well as sharply increased suicide rates.

One study of mining injuries found a spike on the Monday following the shift to daylight savings time; days of work lost to injuries increased by 67 percent just because of that one day. A fascinating follow-up study of desk jobbers found that workers tend to “cyberloaf” more on the Monday following the shift to daylight savings time. In a sleep lab, participants cyberloafed off-task 20 percent of the time for every hour of lost sleep. Researchers extrapolate that this costs the American economy an estimated $434 million annually. (And workers don’t regain productivity after gaining an hour sleep during the fall!)

This year, mitigate the negative symptoms of the clock-change.

Create A Fake Sunset
Dim the lights and avoid screen time at least an hour before your new bedtime.

Early in the day, preferably in bright light to rev up serotonin, which help regulation circadian rhythms.

Create A Fake Sunrise
Put a timer on a bright light near your bed. Set it to turn the light on 30 minutes before you want to wake up in the morning.

Give Yourself A Bonus Hour
If you’re already chronically sleep-deprived, add an extra hour to your sleep schedule starting now. Tonight, go to bed an hour earlier, but don’t wake up an hour earlier tomorrow morning.

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Slumbertorium for sleep tips, fun facts and to learn more about working with your body’s natural circadian rhythms. (You’ll love the Rube Goldberg-like Sleep Machine!)