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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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The Flu Shot and You: Facts Compiled from the CDC Website

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 22, 2014

‘Tis the season when we need to start thinking about getting our flu shots. But what do you need to know and what is different this year from last year?


The CDC website (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2014-2015.htm) has extensive information about the flu shot. Some of the key points are summarized below.

General Information

  • The flu season is generally at its peak from December through February, but it can start as early as October and last through May.
  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.
  • Children between 6 months and 8 years may need additional doses of the vaccine. Ask your healthcare provider for details.
  • Ideally people should get vaccinated starting in October.
  • It takes about two weeks after getting vaccinated for the flu antibodies to develop. You are not protected right away!
  • Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. For this season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 151-159 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market.
  • You can visit http://flushot.healthmap.org to find a place near you to get a flu shot.
  • The effectiveness of the flu vaccine and the length of time it will protect an individual varies from year to year. For more information visit: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm

Types of vaccinations available:

  • There are several flu vaccine options for the 2014-2015 flu season.
  • Traditional vaccines protect against three different types of flu viruses (a trivalent shot). There is also an option that protects against four types of viruses (a quadrivalent shot).
  • Trivalent shots protect against two influenza A viruses (an H1N1 and an H3N2) and an influenza B virus.
  • Trivalent shots comes in a few different shot forms and are given based on an individual’s age. An intradermal trivalent shot is injected into the skin instead of the muscle and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot. It is approved for people 18 through 64 years of age. A high-dose trivalent shot is approved for people 65 and older.
  • Most trivalent shot cultures are grown in eggs. There is an egg-free option called a recombinant trivalent shot that is approved for individuals 18-49.
  • The quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.
  • Quadrivalent flu vaccines come in both shot and nasal spray forms. The nasal spray is recommended for people 2 through 49 years of age (recommended preferentially for healthy children ages 2-8). Visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/nasalspray-children.htm for more information about the nasal spray and children.
  • The only recommendation the CDC is making this year is the preference for the quadrivalent nasal spray for healthy children ages 2-8. See above for more information.

What you can do to prevent the spread of the flu:

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Encourage those around you to get vaccinated.
  • Stay away from sick people and encourage sick people to stay away from others until they get better.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze.

Tags:  Flu  October 2014  Physical  Social 

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Gallup Releases 2014 Global Well-being Index: Room for Improvement

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 22, 2014

Building on its State of American Well-Being Index, Gallup released the results of its global well-being research in September 2014.

The index includes five elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical.

Regional statistics from the Americas, Asia, Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa show that, overall, the well-being in the Americas is rated the highest at 33% thriving in three or more of the above categories. This is compared to the global reports of only 17% reporting thriving in three or more categories.

In fact, in each category (purpose, social, financial, community, and physical) the Americas ranked on average between 5 and 22 points higher than the other regions collectively in terms of reports of thriving. The European region ranked the second highest.

What does this mean for the average person? At a 33% “thriving” score, there is clearly still room for improvement…even in the Americas. However, wealth, education, and life partnerships (including tight family relationships) were large determinants of the satisfaction that existed.  In addition, the survey results make a strong argument that society needs to look beyond physical well-being to less concrete ideas about well-being formed by an individual’s sense of purpose, social structures, financial stability, community engagement, and yes, also their physical well-being.

The next time you think about being well, take a page from the National Wellness Institute’s Six Dimensional Model of Wellness, and go beyond physical exercise. Your emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, and occupational wellness is important too!

Tags:  Emotional  Occupational  October 2014  Physical  Social  Wellness 

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An Exercise in Inspiration

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 22, 2014

While the Inspiration entry in Wellness News You Can Use generally offers quotes and thoughts from other people to inspire us, this month we are going to embark on an inspiration exercise.

Take a moment to read and answer the questions below. Then start with just one phrase a week as a way to work toward a more inspired life. 


Have you loved enough? Who could you show more love toward?


What do you love doing that you aren’t doing? How can you get more of that into your day, week, month, and year?


What person or type of person would you choose as a life companion? Do you give those qualities to the world around you?


Where do you want to live? 


What do you want to accomplish? And most importantly, why — what’s your motivation? 


What do you want to be remembered by? Write it down. “This is the person who _______________.”


What adventures do you want to have? List the first three that come to mind.


If you had to add something to humanity, what would your contribution be? 


Who inspired you today? If you are coming up blank…stop and notice the small things. People do incredible things every day!


What is the most creative thing you can do? When was the last time you did it?


What does your body need in order to function at its best? Or when was the last time you felt physically strong and capable? What made you feel that way?


What are you proud of so far? Who are you proud of? When was the last time you told them? 

Tags:  Emotional  Inspiration  Intellectual  October 2014  Spiritual 

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Prostate 101: A Quick Guide

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 22, 2014

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a male gland about the size of a walnut that surrounds the tube that carries urine out of the body. The prostate produces semen. According to the Men’s Health Resource Center (http://www.menshealthresourcecenter.com/), the prostate grows during puberty and then does not change much until approximately age 40, when it begins to grow again.


What are common issues of the prostate and what causes them?

The three common issues of the prostate, according to the government-sponsored National Institutes of Health (NIH), Medline PLUS (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/prostatediseases.html) are the following:

  • Prostatitis: This is an infection, usually caused by bacteria. While the medical community knows bacteria is the culprit (sometimes caused by a backward flow of urine into the prostate, medical procedures, an abnormal urine tract, bladder infections, a reaction to previous infections, or in the case of chronic prostatitis…sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia), overall little is known. The Urology Care Center (http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=15) has some additional reading.
  • Enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): This is a common problem in older men which may cause dribbling after urination or a need to go often, especially at night. Because it is natural for the prostate to grow, BPH is common in older men.
  • Prostate cancer: This is a common cancer that responds best to treatment when detected early. According to NIH, Prostate Cancer risks increase in men over 50, according to your race (African American men experience more cases), according to your family history, and according to your diet (high fat diets with few fruits and vegetables may increase risk). Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men (behind lung cancer) according to the American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/). Further, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime (usually around age 66). One in 36 diagnosed will die of the disease.

How does a person avoid prostate issues?

1.       Eat a healthy diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables.

2.       Exercise.

3.       Be aware of symptoms of Prostatitis and BPH to catch issues early. See your doctor if you are urinating frequently (especially at night), have difficulty getting a urine stream going or out, pain urinating or ejaculating, fever/chills, pelvic pain, or cloudy urine

4.       Prostate cancer is hard to detect in its early stages. The American Cancer Society recommends a regular prostate exam and possibly a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test that looks for increased antigen levels sometimes associated with prostate cancer. 

Tags:  Men's Health  October 2014  Physical  Prostate 

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Emotional Wellness Breakthrough: First Blood Test to Diagnose Major Depression Developed

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 22, 2014

Are you depressed? How do you feel? These questions once touched on a gray area that some individuals would rather not visit. Plus, the answer or diagnosis was often based on observation on non-specific symptoms. Pride, shame, fear, disbelief: There are many reasons why individuals might avoid self-diagnosing and/or listening to the diagnosis of a healthcare professional.

Realizing that many individuals who needed mental care avoided seeking it, the mental health community did its part to educate populations. Depression is often the result of a chemical imbalance and not a mark that there is something “wrong” with the individual.

The gray area is beginning to clear as researchers from Northwestern University have developed a blood test that provides the first scientific diagnoses of major depression. It also can identify individuals who are at risk for depression.

The test measures levels of nine RNA blood markers. (RNA molecules are the messengers that interpret the DNA genetic code and carry out its instructions.) Even better, the blood test predicts who will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy.

Why is this good? This will provide the opportunity for more effective, individualized therapy for people with depression by not only showing who might benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, but also by showing the impact of such therapy through ongoing testing.

Plus, the study suggests that the test could increase diagnosis. Currently, according to the background research for the study, a subjective diagnosis takes between two to 40 months to identify major depression and many cases are not diagnosed. This test will be faster and more accurate.

Finally, because the test can identify individuals who are vulnerable to depression, those individuals can be treated preemptively so they stay “well,” instead of waiting for treatment until they are unwell.

The next step is to test the method on a larger population.




E E Redei, B M Andrus, M J Kwasny, J Seok, X Cai, J Ho, D C Mohr. Blood transcriptomic biomarkers in adult primary care patients with major depressive disorder undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy. Translational Psychiatry, 2014; 4 (9): e442 DOI: 10.1038/tp.2014.66

Northwestern University. (2014, September 17). First blood test to diagnose depression in adults. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140917121229.htm

Tags:  Depression  Emotional  October 2014  Social 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Things You Should Know About Over-the-counter Pain Relievers

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 22, 2014

1.       In general, there are acetaminophens (such as Tylenol); N SAIDs which are anti-inflammatories like aspirin (many brand names), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), and naproxen (Aleve); and COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex.

2.       Acetaminophen in large amounts can cause liver damage. Individuals should be cautious of trusting the “safe” upper limit on the bottle if they also 1) drink alcohol (which is also processed through the liver) or 2) are also taking other pain/cold/headache medications which commonly also contain acetaminophen.

3.       While aspirin is an N SAID, it also has unique anti-clotting properties that last longer than the other N SAIDs' non-clotting properties (days instead of hours according to MedicineNet.com). While this may make it good for heart patients, alternatives and bleeding risks make other options better according to Harvard Health.

4.       N SAID stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. All N SAIDs have the potential to increase heart attack risk by increasing blood pressure and promoting clotting when cut cold-turkey. They are also linked to increased risks of stomach discomfort and/or ulcers.

5.       N SAIDS and COX-2 inhibitors are processed through the kidneys, whereas acetaminophens are processed through the liver. Individuals with kidney or liver problems should always consult a health professional before taking medications to manage pain.

6.       COX-2 inhibitors were introduced as the “safe” version of N SAIDs without the side effects associated with stomach issues. However, after they entered the market several (Vioxx and Bextra) were linked to heart issues and pulled from the shelves.  

7.       Low doses of Celebrex and other available COX-2 inhibitors are still considered safe for the moment. Researchers, including those at Harvard Health are still waiting on additional studies before weighing in completely.

Bottom line…

8.       Managing chronic pain should be done under the supervision of a health professional.

9.       Dose matters (also be careful of increasing doses when taking more than one medication).

10.   Don’t go cold-turkey if you have been on a pain medication regimen. The way individuals stop taking drugs can be harmful to the body as well.


MedicineNet.com. Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/nonsteroidal_antiinflammatory_drugs/page2.htm


The Harvard Health School Family Guide. 12 things you should know about pain relievers. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/12-things-you-should-know-about-pain-relievers.shtml

Tags:  Intellectual  October 2014  Pain  Physical  Wellness In 10 

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