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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.


 

5 Ear-Perking Facts About Dog Smiles

5 Ear-Perking Facts About Dog Smiles

By Bryana Allen, Delta Dental WA

It’s National Dog Day (August 26) and the perfect time to celebrate our furry, faithful, tail-wagging best friends. Since dogs are the givers of so many smiles, we thought we’d take a closer look at their smiles.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

Puppies “teethe” just like babies – Puppies are born with their teeth just below the gums like people. Their needle-sharp puppy teeth “erupt” between 2 and 3 weeks. And, just like babies, puppies “teethe.” They’ll chew on anything and everything to help those puppy teeth come through.

Puppies lose their puppy teeth – Buddy’s puppy, or deciduous, teeth will fall out to make room for her larger, permanent teeth. Puppies have 28 teeth while dogs have 42 teeth. That’s more teeth than humans! Human babies only have 20 teeth while adults have 32.

Dog teeth need brushing, too – Roughly 85% of dogs over 4, or 35 in human years, have some form of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the gums that causes pain and discomfort. And, just like in people, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.  That’s why it’s extremely important to care for your dog’s teeth. Feed them dry food and give them tartar-control treats. Brush their teeth once a week with a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste found at your local pet store. Take them to the vet if you notice their gums are bleeding because they may need professional cleaning and care.

Dogs DON’T have cleaner mouths than humans – Buster’s tongue picks up all the germs and bacteria our hands do throughout the day. He uses his mouth to carry everything from his favorite toy to the ‘cow chip’ he found exploring the pasture near grandma’s house. It’s just one more reason to brush his teeth. Just like us, brushing Buster’s teeth also helps remove bacteria from his mouth.

Dog licks are like kisses – Dogs lick each other and you for a lot of reasons. Mostly, it’s a sign of affection and respect—just like a human kiss. Don’t worry if Fido gives you a big, wet kiss. His licks can be a safer bet than kissing another person because most cavity-causing bacteria are species specific.

To learn more about your dog’s smile and keeping it healthy, talk to your veterinarian.

Visit the Germnasium in Wellbody Academy to learn more about keeping your own smile healthy.

Time To Start Healthy Back-To-School Routines

The last few weeks of summer vacation are a terrific time to ease into healthy routines that will make the start of the school year less stressful.

Before the backpack scramble begins, help your kids start or reestablish habits that will help them get enough sleep, avoid kid-to-kid illness and prevent backpack backaches. It’s also a great time to brainstorm together on healthy, packable, lunch and snack ideas and make sure you have enough reusable lunch containers on hand; if not, check out the back-to-school sales.

1) Teach your children to wash their hands before eating and after using the bathroom or playing outside. Have them practice covering their mouths when they cough and sneeze. Visit the Sneeze Wall and SureWash station in Wellbody Academy’s Germnasium  to practice proper techniques using fun, interactive game technology.

2) Load lunchboxes with colorful fruits and veggies for sweet crunch and antioxidant energy. Watch a tween’s award-winning video about pre-packing a week’s worth of on-the-go fruit/veggie snack boxes. Visit the conveyer belt Food Analyzer in Wellbody Academy’s Cafedium  to scan food choices (similar to cashier scanner) and discover calories and nutrients of your standby lunch choices. You might be surprised when you compare pepperoni pizza, bagel and cream cheese and falafel in pita!

3) Set up a healthy sleep routine. Adequate sleep sets the stage for better learning, better moods and better relationships. Here’s how much sleep school-age children and teens need:

Ages 3 – 6: 10-12 hours per day
Ages 7 – 12: 10-11 hours per day
Ages 12 – 18: 8 – 9 hours per day

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Slumbertorium for tips and inspiration on getting optimal shut-eye.

4) Lighten your child’s load to avoid backpack injuries. Review the contents of their backpack to help them figure out what can reside at home or at school instead traveling on their shoulders. In their backpack, place heavy items closest to their back or in the center compartment. The load should not exceed 10-20 percent of body weight. Talk with teachers about switching to a single sheet or e-homework system instead of requiring students to tote notebooks for each subject.

Check out Ask the School Nurse on WebMD for more useful back-to-school health tips.

Summer’s Gift: Grilled Peaches

Summer’s Gift: Grilled Peaches

Nothing screams summer like peaches. Warmed by the sun, glowing amber and rose, a perfectly ripe peach needs nothing more than a hungry admirer with a few relaxing minutes to savor the flavor – and a napkin to sop up drips.

However, if you want to elevate nature’s bounty to decadent heights (or if your peaches aren’t quite ripe), then use fire. Glowing heat will draw out and caramelize the juices, painting a tangy sweet gloss on the softened golden flesh; flames create a slight char, a papery crackle that dissolves on the tongue and tastes like toffee.

In the midst of peach season, who needs desserts bloated with fats or sweetened with added sugars and high-fructose corn syrup?

One large peach has about 70 calories, no fat. It’s high in vitamin A (important for healthy vision) and vitamin C, an antioxidant key to building and repairing tissues. Peaches also provide antioxidant vitamin E and vitamin K (vital for blood clotting), thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid. The potassium in peaches (350 mg), helps maintain blood pressure and prevent kidney stones and bone loss.

Major antioxidants, including chlorogenic acid, in the fuzzy fruits help scavenge free radicals linked to aging, chronic disease, inner inflammation and cancer.

Finally, a large peach contains three grams of fiber, essential for smooth digestion and likely beneficial in regulating cholesterol and reducing risk of heart disease.

Here’s a book recommendation–sumptuous summer reading featuring peaches: Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm by David M. Masumoto. And, of course, a foolproof recipe…

Grilled Peaches

Ingredients

  • Peaches (1 per person)- Select fragrant peaches that give slightly to gentle thumb pressure. However, if they are still hard, that’s OK because the heat will soften the flesh and draw out the juices and flavor.
  • Olive oil.
  • Optional garnishes: Thyme sprigs, sea salt, balsamic vinegar, dried coconut flakes, vanilla, yogurt, coconut milk, vanilla, pomegranate molasses.

Preparation

  • Heat your grill to medium (either charcoals or gas) while you are prepping the peaches.
  • Wash and dry the peaches. Slice into quarters, removing the pit. Brush with olive oil. If you’re using thyme sprigs or sea salt, sprinkle on the peaches.
  • Place the peaches on the grill and cover. When the peaches start oozing juice (2 to 5 minutes per side), turn them. When all three surfaces have been roasted, remove from grill and eat. Or, optional, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, honey, vanilla, pomegranate molasses, yogurt and/or coconut milk.

Make extra to eat for breakfast or snack. Refrigerate, slice into eighths and top with granola, oatmeal, quinoa or chopped nuts for breakfast or serve atop greens for a salad.

Grilled apricots are also delicious. Cut them in halves instead of quarters. They will only need to grill 1 – 3 minutes per side.

You can also “grill” fruit in a heavy-bottomed pan on your stove top. Heat the burner to medium-hot, add one teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil and fry fruit pieces two or three minutes per side until the juices ooze and caramelize.

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Cafédium to play “An Apple A Day,” an interactive, razzle-dazzle casino-style game that gives the inside story on how different nutrients help your body.

Road Trip Tips For Miles Of Healthy Smiles

By Bryana Allen, Delta Dental of Washington

Summer is in full swing! It’s time to soak up sunshine, warm weather and visit your favorite travel destinations. If you’re hitting the road this summer, don’t forget to pack for your smile.

For miles of healthy smiles, add these items to your road trip checklist before you back out of the driveway.

  • Pack smart snacks. Junk food is convenient, but has a dark side — it’s bad for your figure and your smile. For a refreshing and easy treat, bring fresh fruit. If you want something salty, pack nuts or whole grain crackers with cheese.
  • Load up on sugarless gum. It’s one of the Tooth Fairy’s top tips because chewing xylitol gum serves two purposes. First, it’ll keep you from continuous snacking on long stretches of highway. Second, it’s a great way to clean your teeth between meals when you can’t brush.
  • Bring plenty of water. Coffee, energy drinks, and sodas may give you a quick boost, but they’re full of sugar which is bad for your waist and smile. So, swap them out with water. It’s even better if it’s tap water from home.
  • Pack a back-up. Sometimes things get left at hotels and bathrooms along the way and convenience stores don’t always have what you need. Be prepared and pack an extra toothbrush and travel-sized backups of all your smile care products. No one wants to be stuck in a car for hours with stinky breath.
  • Know your dental benefits. Dental emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere~even far from home. Familiarize yourself with your coverage just in case something happens on the road. If you’re covered through Delta Dental of Washington, you can view your coverage easily and quickly through your MySmile® Personal Benefits Center account.

Now you — and your smile — are ready to hit the road! What road trips are you taking this summer?

Grilling, Marinades & Cancer

‘Tis the season for grilling.

But before you sear chicken, steaks or even salmon over the coals, read about the danger of cancer hidden in charred meats, and learn how certain marinades can mitigate risk—research conducted by 13-year-old Lauren Hodge whose work won top honors at the inaugural Google Science Fair.

One night, when her mom was preparing grilled chicken for dinner, Lauren noticed the edges of the chicken turned white. Later, in biology class, she learned about denaturing, when proteins change shape and lose their ability to chemically function. “So I combined these two ideas and I formulated a hypothesis, saying that, could possibly the carcinogens be decreased due to a marinade and could it be due to the differences in PH?”

Her tests found that lemon, honey and salt water marinades inhibit carcinogenic formation, olive oil has a negligible effect and soy sauce seems to slightly increase cancer potential. Lauren chose to focus her research on chicken because it has more carcinogens than other grilled meats.

This doesn’t mean you need to stop grilling! Just be mindful of marinades, don’t overcook your meats and avoid eating char.

Most of all, remember that VEGETABLES ARE YOUR FRIENDS. They are not carcinogenic when grilled AND they also have antioxidants that help neutralize the free radicals that cause cancer.

On another note, YAY for girls in science! In the same TED talk, you’ll meet two other young women, who, along with Lauren, swept the top spots at the inaugural Google Science Fair.

Grand prize winner, Shree Bose, started researching cancer at age 15, after the death of grandfather. Armed only with freshman biology, Bose went on to figure out how to prevent cells from becoming resistant to a chemotherapy drug.

Naomi Shah studied the impact of indoor air pollutants on asthma. Watch the TED talk to find out which environmental factors most impact human health and what you can do at home to reduce asthma triggers.

Dealing With Teen Sleep Deprivation

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 at least nine hours of sleep per night. NINE hours? Yes, sleep researchers say, at least nine hours, preferably 9½ or 10.

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.

What to do?

Reset Your Body Clock

Though sleep phase delay is a natural part of puberty (lasting for most young people until they’re about 20 years old) researchers have found it IS possible for people to reset their body clocks.

  • Wake early in the morning and expose yourself to bright light for at least 20 minutes. During summer, take a brisk walk outside. During winter, if you live in a region where the sun doesn’t rise until late, sit in front of a bright “sun” lamp for about a half hour early in the morning – or take a morning walk when the sky lightens at 9 or 10 a.m.
  • In the summer, go camping and hiking for a week. Here’s a fascinating article about using nature to reset your body clock.
  • Wear orange goggles at night to block blue light.
  • Try F.lux, free software that helps your computer’s display adapt to the time of the day by gradually screening out blue light as it gets closer to bedtime.

Embrace Healthy Sleep Hygiene

Practicing sleep hygiene is critical during the teen and pre-teen years—and what better time to establish healthy sleep routines to last a lifetime?

  • Wake at around the same time each morning, even on the weekends.
  • Exercise in the morning, ideally outdoors in bright sunshine.
  • Keep bedrooms cool, dark, and free of distracting electronics and pets.
  • Stop watching electronic screens – especially screens close to your face – at least an hour before sleep.
  • Wear orange glasses or use the computer program f.lux (see above) to screen out blue light.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon.

Public Policy

Some school districts have delayed high school start times to align more closely with teen circadian rhythms. Classes start closer to 9 a.m. instead of 7:20 a.m. Check if there’s movement in this direction in your district and join with likeminded families to push for it.

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

Healthy Summer Picnic Hacks

Summer’s here and it’s too hot to eat indoors – so why not head to park, lake or mountains with a picnic?

With seasonal produce at its peak, it’s the perfect time to load your picnic backpack with the fiber, antioxidants and vitamins found in fruits and vegetables – foods that can boost energy and help with weight management while reducing risk for heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

A recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 90 percent of Americans still aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables—seriously?—despite years of public health messaging on this topic. Only 13 percent of adults eat enough fruits and only nine percent are eating enough vegetables.

How much is enough? Adults should eat at least 1.5 – 2 cups of fruit a day and 2-3 cups of veggies, according to government guidelines.

Boost your fruit and veggie intake with these quick and easy healthy summer picnic hacks.

On Lifebuzz

  1. Four whacks to cut a watermelon into cool sticks.
  2. Layer chopped salad in a to-go cup with a lid.
  3. Put a layer of peanut butter in the bottom of a jar. Add celery sticks (think vertical, ends dipped in the peanut butter). Top with lid.
  4. Transport strawberries in an egg carton, one strawberry per divot. Optional: Trim stems and fill each with a dab of peanut butter.
  5. Rainbow fruit skewers.
  6. Caprese skewers.
  7. Small wide-mouth mason jars filled with guacamole, hummus, bean dip.
  8. Refreshing iced water. (Prep this the day before your picnic.) To a mason jar, add a cucumber slice, lemon slice, mint leaves, a grape or raspberries. Fill with water, being sure to leave an inch of space at the top for liquids to expand in the freezer. Screw on cap. Freeze. Add to picnic bag to keep your food cold during transport. When you’re ready to picnic, your water will taste cool and refreshing.

Spray Parks Instead Of Screen Time

It’s summer and for many kids, the season without school can add up to a lot of extra screen time.

Screen addiction has become a hot topic in modern parenting, no more so than in China, where doctors consider Internet addiction a clinical disorder and have set up controversial rehab centers documented in “Web Junkie,” premiering on PBS Monday (7/13/15).

Here in America, a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found the average 8- to 10-year-old spends eight hours a day in front of screens; tweens and teens log more than 11 hours a day on computers, tablets and phones. Researchers have had a field day with the psychological, social and cultural impacts of electronic media on children and many link increased screen time with rising rates of childhood obesity.

Need another reason to encourage kids to refresh their bodies instead of their Web browsers?

Recent research by scientists at the University of California found that mice that exercised while young were more likely to exercise as adults — and they weighed less, results that “may be relevant for the public policy debates concerning the importance of physical education for children,” the researchers say.

So kids, turn off your screens and head out to play. How ’bout running, jumping and spinning at the nearest spray park?

Spray Parks, Fountains, Wading Pools & Beaches

Here’s Red Tricycle’s round up of favorite of spray parks, splash zones and child-friendly beaches in the Seattle area. ParentMap details a few lesser-known gems in this spray park review.

And when you come to Seattle Center to enjoy the “big Kahuna” of all spray parks, the powerful jets choreographed to music at the International Fountain, stop by Wellbody Academy to explore how play and healthy choices can make you feel better for life.

Ahhhh-mazingly Gross Facts About Your Smile

By Bryana Allen, Delta Dental WA

Mouths are truly amazing. Without them we wouldn’t be able to eat, taste, talk, sing, make silly faces, or smile. And everyone’s mouth is unique. That’s right!

The shape, size, and position of your teeth is unlike anyone else’s in the world. Your tongue-print, just like your fingerprints, is one-of-a-kind. The exact shape and color of your lips are unique, too. All these make your smile 1 in 7 billion. As amazing as they are, mouths are also disgusting.

Here are 5 facts to prove it:

1. A clean smile has 1,000 to 100,000 bacteria living, feeding, and depositing waste on each tooth. There are 500 to 650 different types of bacteria, but not all are bad. Some secrete enzymes that kill bad bacteria.

2. The bacteria in our mouths and the food we eat cause bad breath. Rinsing with water or chewing sugar free gum between meals helps keep it fresh.

3. You’ll produce enough spit in your lifetime to fill two swimming pools! Everyone’s spit contains bits of urea, mucous (snot), and leftover food. Gross. But spit helps wash away bad bacteria which is good for your teeth, and besides, you wouldn’t be able to taste anything without it.

4. You swallow most of the bacteria and spit in your mouth. In fact, you swallow up to 1.5 liters of saliva each day. The acids in your stomach kill most of the bacteria you swallow and your body repurposes the water in your spit. It’s a pretty efficient system.

5. A sneeze shoots out of your mouth at over 100 mph and a cough at over 60 mph. Each contains bacteria and spit from your mouth. So please be sure to cover both as often as possible.

If you’d like to smell bad breath or get sneezed on, stop by the Germnasium in Wellbody Academy. Then check out GROSSOLOGY: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body for even more awesomely disgusting, hands-on experiences.

Visit DeltaDentalWAblog.com for fun tips to keep your smile healthy.

Healthy Red, White & Blue Recipes

This July 4, celebrate America’s birthday with delicious red, white and blue recipes that get their colors—and heart healthy, cancer-fighting powers—from natural antioxidants rather than artificial dyes.

Start the party with blue tortilla chips topped with sliced mozzarella and diced red tomato. Free of sugar, gluten and chemical additives, this patriotic snack gets snap from high-fiber corn tortilla chips, creaminess from low-fat cheese, and sweet tartness from ripe tomatoes. Spritz with fresh lemon juice for added tang and vitamin C. You can substitute low-fat feta, ricotta, cottage cheese or cream cheese for the mozzarella.

Our ever popular Red, White & Blueberry flag, an edible art project, is a terrific assemble-ahead dessert to make with kids. Stack raspberries, blueberries and banana slices on skewers for a treat filled with fiber, vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants including ellagic acid, a known cancer fighter.

Keep reading for more fabulous red, white & blue recipes!

Try this beautiful red, white and blue potato salad garnished with slivers of piquillo peppers reminiscent of bright red confetti. You can also roast and slice your own red bell peppers. They’ll take on a smoky sweetness when you char them on the grill, stovetop or in the oven, then peel and discard the blackened skins.

Use any combination of strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blackberries and blueberries for these red, white and blue fruit cups. Feel free to reduce or omit the sugar when whipping the cream. If you’re shying away from high-fat dairy, substitute a dollop of low-fat plain yogurt or drizzle plain coconut milk, almond, rice or soy milk instead of cream.

On a hot day, what could be more refreshing than red, white and blue popsicles? Whole raspberries and blueberries add anthocyanin, the pigment that gives berries their rich hue. To cut down on sugar and bump up creaminess, consider diluting the limeade with low-fat cow milk, coconut milk or other “not”-milks.

Have fun eating red, white and blue.

Remember, red foods like watermelons tomatoes, cherries and strawberries often get their rosy hue from lycopenes and anthocyanins–antioxidants that help fight inflammation and protect healthy tissues from free-radical damage.

White foods, including bananas, cauliflower and garlic and mushrooms contain alicin which some studies have shown to have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Blue and Purple foods, including blueberries, eggplants and plums, also get their gorgeous color and health benefits from anthocyanin which studies have shown to be effective in reducing risk of heart diseases, cancer and stroke.

Drop by Wellbody Academy’s Cafédium to play Apple A Day, an interactive, razzle-dazzle game that uses a Vegas-style slot machine to teach what foods have which nutrients and how those nutrients help your body.