Do you need a booster shot, pronto?
Sarah Hyland of “Modern Family” has had multiple kidney transplants. That means she’s immunocompromised, because of the anti-rejection drugs she has to take and because her original condition strains her immune system.
When she got her COVID-19 vaccine in March, she declared, “HALLELUJAH! I AM FINALLY VACCINATED!!!!!” Now, she sounds like a candidate for a booster shot, since it’s recommended for anyone who’s moderately or severely immunocompromised. But many people don’t know if their health challenges mean they should get a booster.
Here are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines and definition of moderately to severely immunocompromised, plus why it’s important to act now. (The rest of you will get booster shots soon — around six to eight months after your initial vaccinations.)
1. Get a booster that’s the same brand — Moderna or Pfizer — you got originally.
2. Wait at least 28 days after your second injection before getting a booster.
3. You qualify as immunocompromised if:
■ You’ve been receiving cancer treatment for a solid or blood cancer.
■ Have had an organ transplant and are taking immune-suppressing medication.
■ Have received a stem cell transplant within the past two years.
■ You are diagnosed with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency.
■ Have an advanced or untreated HIV infection.
■ Are being treated with high-dose corticosteroids or any other immune-suppressing medications.
4. The booster ups your resistance to COVID-19 to a more robust level of effectiveness. If you do contract COVID-19, the booster may help reduce the severity.
Don’t compromise your health if you’re immunocompromised. Check with your doctor about a booster today!
What’s with all the salmonella alerts for people and dog food?
It seems like every week, the Food and Drug Administration issues an alert about salmonella contamination in the food supply. You’re told to avoid eating prosciutto and salami (we say they’re always to be avoided anyway) or to ditch your dog’s fancy food. Recent outbreaks of salmonella illness have been linked to contaminated fruit and vegetables, eggs, raw chicken, cooked shrimp and ground turkey. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates salmonella causes 1.2 million foodborne illnesses and 450 deaths annually in the U.S.
Where does it come from? Salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of people and animals and spread to agricultural products through contaminated water or they’re dispersed directly in food production/packaging facilities. Kids younger than 5, adults over age 65 and anyone with a weakened immune system are most vulnerable to severe consequences from the diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that the bacteria can trigger.
Although cooking kills salmonella, just bringing contaminated products into your kitchen risks spreading the infectious bacteria to other foods and surfaces and on to pets and people. Your best protection comes from:
■ Storing raw meat, poultry and seafood away from other foods.
■ Never rinsing off raw poultry before cooking.
■ Using separate cutting boards for raw meat and produce.
■ Never placing cooked food on an unwashed plate that’s had raw meat on it.
■ Never eating unpasteurized raw eggs or unbaked cookie dough.
■ Washing your hands frequently, especially after changing a diaper, cleaning up pet feces or handling raw animal products.
■ Cooking meats/poultry to recommended temperatures. Check out www.FoodSafety.gov; search for “safe minimum cooking temperatures.”
Your three goals for diabetes control
When Allen Iverson retired from the NBA in 2010, he headed for the Hall of Fame because of his astounding control of the ball. His dribbling magic allowed him to repeatedly provide his teams (the 76ers, Nuggets, Pistons and Grizzlies) with a healthy lead.
That’s the same kind of artful control you want to execute so you can get a healthy lead on your Type 2 diabetes — and stay in the game of life! Unfortunately, when it comes to reaching the big three goals that will make you the master of your diabetes, most of you are benching yourselves!
A new study in JAMA Network reveals that only about 21 percent of adults with diagnosed diabetes hit their healthy targets, which are essential for reducing the risk of serious complications such as heart attack, nerve, kidney and eye damage, and gastro-distress.
The targets include: 1. an individualized target for your A1c — a measure of your blood sugar levels over several months; 2. blood pressure of less than 130/80; and 3. a lousy LDL cholesterol level below 100 mg/dL. And those targets are more generous than what we recommend — an A1c of below 7 percent, blood pressure of 120/75 or less, and an LDL of 70 mg/dL.
So arrange for a doc visit to evaluate your A1c, blood pressure and LDL cholesterol level. Then set up a team strategy, working with your doctor, a nutritionist and exercise coach. Together you can get your numbers in a game-winning range. Diabetes can be controlled — even reversed. Slam dunk!
Water, walking and heart health
The film “Gerry,” staring Casey Affleck and Matt Damon, tells the story of two boys who wander — and wander and wander — in the desert without food or water. The movie bewildered film critic Roger Ebert, who said the more he watched it, the less he liked it and the more he admired it.
What we admire is folks who know how good it is to walk — and walk and walk — but who are smart enough to stay well-hydrated. Those qualities are the keys to a longer, healthier life according to two new studies.
The first followed almost 16,000 folks ages 44 to 66 for 15 years and found that staying well-hydrated every day prevents chronic elevation of blood sodium levels in midlife, which can damage your heart structure and function, and are associated with heart failure 25 years later. To stay hydrated, women need at least 54 to 71 ounces of water a day and men at least 68 to 101 ounces.
The second study looked at 33,000 heart patients, average age 62 at the start, for around seven years, and found that folks who finally got active (for at least 150 minutes weekly) later in life lowered their risk of death from all causes by 45 percent and for death from cardiovascular disease by 27 percent compared to folks who were never active.
So make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and, whatever your age, start a walking routine, heading for 10,000 steps daily. Then you won’t miss a beat as you head into older age.
One powerful reason to control your lousy LDL cholesterol level
We’ll start with the good and tasty news: Pecans (as in a pecan-pomegranate salad or the newly available pecan milk, not the sugar-disaster that’s pecan pie) can help you stay healthy in important ways. And since 80 percent of the world’s supply is grown in the U.S., pecans are never in short supply.
A study out of the University of Georgia (natch!) found that eating 2.4 ounces of pecans daily for eight weeks slashed LDL cholesterol levels by 6 to 9 percent, substantially reducing the risk of coronary artery disease.
Benefits beyond heart health: Lowering your LDL level does more than protect your heart health; it may help protect you from cancer. A study in Nature Communications reveals that chronically high cholesterol levels increase the risks of breast cancer and lead to worse outcomes from most types of cancer, because the cholesterol protects metastasizing cancer cells, allowing them to spread.
To send lousy cholesterol down, good cholesterol up: 1. Add pecans (and walnuts) to your plant-centered diet; ditch red and processed meats and added sugars. 2. Walk at least an hour a day five days a week to lower LDL cholesterol and consider cycling to raise heart-lovin’ HDL cholesterol.
If you take those steps but still have trouble getting your LDL to 100 or lower, ask your doc about taking a statin. It not only clears out excess LDL, it reduces inflammation and might help treat and inhibit some cancers and help manage liver disease. If you’re intolerant of statins, ask about the new alternative meds.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.