Guest Post by Jillian Mckee – the importance of healthy eating

The following article is a guest post by Jillian Mckee, Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Enjoy!


A Healthy Diet During Cancer

We’ve all heard it before. Don’t eat junk food. Eat your veggies. Dessert will spoil your dinner. We are constantly reminded to eat healthy and a nutritious diet can be especially important for cancer patients. Although eating healthy foods cannot cure cancer, the vitamins and minerals your body gains help your body and mind become stronger.

A simple, nutritious diet is more advantageous than most people think. Healthy eating can really change your mind, body, and outlook on life. No matter what stage of cancer a person is in, a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help in fighting off cancerous cells. It makes a cancer patient’s body more resistant to harmful toxins and aids in recovery.

Everyone should discuss drastic diet change with their doctor. A healthy diet can drastically improve your body’s ability to recover from strenuous cancer treatment, surgery, and chemotherapy. Multiple websites and clinics have information on nutritious foods that have been proven to help prevent and fight cancer. lists types of foods you should eat before, during, and after treatment. For example, before treatment, a patient should consume a diet low in fat and high in protein. The website warns against certain vitamins during different stages of treatment as they may cause complications such as blood thinning. It also includes a detailed analysis of chemotherapy agents and new anti-cancer agents.

Benefits of nutritious eating while dealing with cancer are endless. Although a healthy diet is not reported to cure cancer, many studies have proven that it does have a direct link on one’s overall health. Whether you or a loved one is dealing with leukemia, mesothelioma, or any type of cancer, a clean and simple diet will help in the fight towards recovery.

Nutrition is important to all people. Do not disregard the life-altering effects and benefits of a healthy and nutritious diet while fighting cancer. The diet may make a noticeable difference.



Health and Science Reporting: Breaking into the World of Social Media and Blogging

With newspapers and print publications struggling to stay afloat today, journalists have taken to the Web in order to get the news out into the world.

Tinker Ready, a part-time journalism professor at Boston University, currently writes for two health and science-focused blogs and has been freelancing for 14 years.

Reporters like Ready, who has previously written for The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Esquire and many other national publications, are finding new ways to establish themselves in an online world. Through social media and blogging, Ready has established her presence as a well-known health and science blogger in the Boston community.

In 2009, Ready began writing for her own blog called Boston Health News. This blog is dedicated to informing readers about topics such as science research, personal health and policy-related health news.

Ready also writes for Nature Boston, a scientific blog run by the Nature Publishing Group, a company that publishes scientific and medical research, articles and other information both online and in print across the country. Ready posts to this blog daily, and generally includes health and scientific news from around the Boston and New England area.

“The Nature blog is a job I have,” said Ready. “With the Nature blog, I’m covering what’s happening in the scientific community in Boston, where the Boston Health News blog is much more health policy oriented and is my personal view on things.”

Both of Ready’s blogs inform and educate her readers about current news in Boston’s health and science fields, but they have different objectives.

“The goal for my personal blog is to get experience as a blogger but also to be out there in the discussion on health reform,” said Ready. “Right now, it is my home on the Web.”

Social media, along with blogging, is a large part of the ever-changing world of journalism.

“Live tweeting is good,” said Ready. “It brings followers to the website, overall it’s a good way to bring traffic to your site.”

Ready regularly uses social media outlets to get her stories out to her readers. She is well-connected across the main social media sites, but uses Twitter as her main connection to readers.

“All my Health News blog posts go out automatically as tweets, and I tweet out all my Nature blogs manually,” said Ready. “I post links to stories on my Facebook page, but Twiter is a really important tool for me.”

As a tool to get blog posts out to the Internet, Twitter is rapidly becoming a more reliable way for Ready to make sure her readers know not only about her recent blog posts, but also about what is going on in the health world.

“My Twitter presence is almost more prominent now than my blog presence,” said Ready. “I have the Twitter account linked to the blog, but I go through the health news every day and I tweet out different things that I think are interesting.”

Blogging is an important part of the health-care industry, and those employed by companies in the industry read health blogs like Ready’s Nature blog to stay on top of the most recent news.

Valentine Tendo, the member services assistant at Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, reads the Nature Boston blog regularly.

“I read Tinker’s blog because she investigates critical topics that may go under the radar,” said Tendo. “It is extremely informative regarding what is going on in the life sciences industry.”

Tendo also commented on Ready’s calendar on the Nature blog, saying it is a useful tool for anyone in the industry.

“Tinker has a weekly calendar of local ongoing events in the science world on the Nature Network Boston Calendar,” said Tendo. “This is a great resource not only for those actively involved within the life sciences industry but also students and individuals without a science background who are looking to get more involved within the industry.”

Ready has been involved with health reporting for a large part of her career. She started Boston Health News three years ago, and began working for Nature Boston when it started in 2009.

“I started covering healthcare for a Connecticut paper called The Journal Inquirer,” said Ready. “And I’ve been covering healthcare ever since. I like it, I got interested in it so I’ve been covering it ever since.”

She also attends health-related events around Boston. In March, Ready attended Massachusetts Biotechnology Council’s Annual Meeting. At the meeting, Ready tweeted her experience to followers, and also wrote a blog post on the keynote address.

Sarah MacDonald, vice president of development and communications at Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, said working with Ready was a new kind of experience.

“Tinker was great to work with,” said MacDonald. “She was interested in what she was reporting, and it was a new experience for me to work with someone so involved in blogging and social media during the event.”

As far as MassBio’s Annual Meeting goes, Ready said she wishes she could have stayed longer.

“There were a lot of great sessions there that could have brought me up to date on a lot of healthcare topics I’d like to do,” said Ready.

However, as a part-time professor, Ready’s commitment to her students is a priority. Ready currently teaches introductory level journalism classes to undergraduates at BU. As a journalism professor, she is constantly looking for ways to improve and engage with the ever-growing online audience. As far as the future of news gathering goes, Ready said the news industry is changing, not dying.

“I’m optimistic that the phoenix is rising,” Ready said. “There’s new stuff, and there’s lots of journalism going on out there, it’s just online. I was worried at one point about the demise of newspapers, but I think the worst is over. People want solid, reliable information, and I think they’ll seek it out. They’re going to go to sites where the news is reliable, so I think there’s a good future for news sites.”

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Could coconut oil really be a fix-all, cure-all?

While I was in the grocery store the other day, one of my friends picked up a jar of coconut oil and looked at it with a look of disgust on her face.

“What do you think people use this for?” she asked me.

I had no idea how to answer. Maybe if people really like the taste of coconut you can use it to add the flavor to other foods. But why you would want to do that is beyond me. But then my curiosity got the best of me and I looked up uses for coconut oil online.

I was surprised with what I found. It turns out that coconut oil is one of those remedies that can fix just about anything, and would actually be a useful thing to have lying around the house. Here are a few uses I found:

– A spoonful of the oil can give you a boost of energy (but I’m not sure  how that would taste…)

– Use it as a conditioner for your hair, a lip moisturizer or even a hair styling agent

– Add some to a warm bath to moisturize your skin

– Use it as a makeup remover, shaving cream or even deodorant

– Use the oil on squeaky hinges instead of WD-40

– Can be used as a natural sunscreen

See a full list of uses here. And be sure to check out this post from Dr. Cate Shanahan, a certified family physician, on coconut oil and weight loss!

Some of these uses seem a bit questionable to me, but it’s worth a shot right? I guess I’ll be picking up some coconut oil next time I go grocery shopping!

Published in the Globe

Be sure to check out this article on The Boston Globe’s website. It’s a good story written by Globe reporter Geoff Edgers about running in different states in countries. Photos for both the online and print versions were taken by yours truly in Istanbul, Turkey last summer. An exciting beginning for my career as a journalist!

My photo in the print version of Sunday's Boston Globe

Marathon Monday

It’s that time again: the Boston Mrathon. Over 25,000 runners come out every year to run the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton, MA to the finish line in Copley Square, right next to the Boston Public Library. Since the race began in 1897, the marathon is not only the oldest annual marathon, but has become one of the world’s most well-known road races. The race typically has over 500,000 spectators, and people of all ages come out to run in or to watch the anual event.

But running 26.2 miles takes training, commitment, and an insane amount of fitness. So for those of you who don’t necessarily want to run a marathon and would rather sit in the comfort of a local sports bar, well, brewing company Samuel Adams has come out this year with a beer brewed especially for the event. Appropriately named 26.2, this marathon beer is a spring brew with a citrus flavor.

So whether you’re enjoying the marathon from a bar or from the sidelines, enjoying a cold brew or throwing water bottles to runners, be sure to head out today and support the participants of the 2012 Boston Marathon!

Counting Calories? There’s an app for that

A new trend among my friends seems to be counting calories. Based on your age, height, weight, and the amount of weight you want to lose, you have a certain amount of calories to consume every day. The app, My Fitness Pal, allows you to record everything you eat and the exercise you do, and then shows you how many calories you have left for the number of calories you are allotted per day; for example, a typical 1,200 calorie diet. You can even scan the bar codes of products to get the exact number of calories in what you are eating.

The exercise you can add includes everything from walking at a leisurely pace to running sprints. You can directly record the calories you burn or consume, or you can enter in your meal or the length of time you spent on the treadmill and the app will calculate the calories for you. It even gives you encouragement during the day and congratulates you when you end the day directly at or below your calorie limit.

Counting calories has helped people lose weight for years. Just as with spending money, the calories you eat throughout the day add up. If you are conscious about what you eat and control portion sizes, losing weight becomes that much easier. These days, while portion sizes continue to increase, it’s hard to watch how much you eat when that scrumptious pasta dinner is staring you down. It’s easy to indulge and not so easy to cut yourself off, which is where calorie counting comes in. Keeping an eye on the amount of food you are eating every day makes it easier to cut back on midnight trips to the fridge or unnecessary snacking after class. Give it a try – the app is free!

Tired of the T? Try the Hubway!

Have you ever wanted to take a leisurely self-guided tour of the city, but didn’t want to walk the entire way? Well, New Balance has solved your problem. The Hubway was introduced to Boston last year, and offers users the opportunity to rent bikes for as long as they want. With stations placed strategically throughout the city, it is easy to take a bike from Mission Hill to, say, the North End.

To get a bike, you simply have to swipe your credit card. For $5.00, you can get unlimited access to Hubway bikes for 24 hours. And the best part? Every ride that is up to 30 minutes long is free, and using the bike for up to an hour means an additional usage fee of only $2.00. The next level of membership for the Hubway is a 3-day membership which costs $12.00 and allows you unlimited access to the Hubway system for 72 hours.

And finally, for $50, you can get a year-long membership to Hubway which gives you a break on the additional usage fees.

If you want a bike for the entire day, it would probably be cheaper to rent a bike at a local bike shop, but as for commuting from one place to another, Hubway is the way to go. In Boston, it typically takes less than 30 minutes to bike anywhere in the city, so that would mean you pay only $5.00 for 24-hours of usage. That’s less than you would pay for 3 T rides! And the added bonus of exercise, seeing the city instead of traveling underground, and being outside instead of crammed into crowded subway cars is priceless.

So next time you’re looking to head to the North End for dinner, try using the Hubway instead of jumping on the T.

Co-op Program offers experience, promising future

As a Northeastern student, I am proud to be a part of the renowned co-op program here at the university. I have completed two 6-month co-ops already, and I will be starting my third in July. The co-op program here not only allows students to gain real-world (and even paid!) experience before graduation, but it is proven that the program makes it much easier for NU grads to get full-time jobs after college. By going through the co-op process, we know how to interview for a corporate position, we know how to work in professional environments and we have real-world experience in our field. There is a story about Northeastern’s co-op program on USA Today’s website, and I just have to share it with all of you. Enjoy!

Can you get addicted to tanning?

UV rays in tanning beds are not only dangerous to your skin, but they are proven to cause addictive behavior in the brain.

As the days start warming up, more people are trading in boots and hoodies for flip-flops and tank tops. But of course, everyone wants to start the summer with a nice healthy glow. But before you begin to frequent those artificial tanning beds to bronze your bod, consider what you are about to put your body through. A tan really isn’t healthy at all. In fact, a tan means you’re skin is damaged. The beds emit UV rays that penetrate directly into your skin. Sure it looks nice now, but you are putting yourself at risk for skin cancer, premature aging, and even eye damage.

But there is a new discovery in the world of artificial tanning. Apparently those who frequent tanning salons experience brain activity that is similar to patterns of drug addiction. Through a series of studies, it was found that the UV rays cause the addictive activity in the brain. The study withheld the UV rays from some participants, and gave the full tan to others. But there was no fooling the tanners. Those who didn’t receive the UV rays in the tanning session wanted to get back in the bed, while those that did receive full UV ray were satisfied. These findings were published in the journal Addiction Biology, and for a more in depth look into this issue, check out Tara Parker-Pope’s story on the New York Times blog Well.

Photo (cc) Beax and republished here under Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

New research for cystic fibrosis

The local blog CommonHealth has just posted about a new development in cystic fibrosis research. Accompanied with a report by Boston Globe’s Carolyn Johnson and a video by Mass. General, this is an excellent post about new research that is a step in the right direction for those battling cystic fibrosis. Check it out here.