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Lorilei Barsh

Which of the following statements about mentoring applies to your experience at JHM?

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Have you ever thrown something away and later realized that it was much more valuable than you initially thought? For example, maybe you had an original Barbie doll or other toy as a child that is worth a lot today. Or, the value could be sentimental, such something that reminds you of a loved one who may no longer be with us.  Comment below on this week's Throwback Thursday with an item that always causes you to say "I should have kept that."

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If you're like most people, you may have gas, constipation, or heartburn every now and then. These symptoms are so common that many people just live with them. But you can avoid many of these problems simply by making better food choices.

Eating to avoid gas, bloating, and flatulence

These uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing symptoms can be caused by swallowing too much air, eating foods that produce a lot of gas, or having a reaction to a food that your system has trouble digesting. It’s normal to pass gas 18 to 20 times a day. If flatulence or bloating becomes more of a problem, try these tips:

  • To avoid swallowing too much air, avoid carbonated beverages. Don’t drink through a straw, and, in general, eat and drink more slowly. Rather than gulping, savor each mouthful.
  • Go easy on gas-producing foods such as broccoli, beans, cabbage, and cauliflower.
  • Avoid chewing gum, especially gum that contains sorbitol. The air you swallow while gum chewing may cause gas, and sorbitol causes flatulence in some people.
  • The protein in milk is hard for many people to digest, a condition called lactose intolerance. If milk products give you gas, try cutting back on how much of them you eat or drink to see if the symptoms go away. The protein in grains such as wheat and rye are also hard for some people to digest. Talk with your doctor if you think you might have problems with these foods.

Eating to avoid heartburn

Everybody gets occasional heartburn. If you have heartburn frequently, especially if it wakes you up at night, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Talk with your doctor about frequent heartburn. Try these tips to help avoid it:

  • Stop smoking and only drink alcohol in moderation. That means no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
  • Stop eating at least three hours before you go to bed.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Avoid foods that are known to cause heartburn, especially fatty foods and foods and beverages with caffeine, chocolate, and peppermint.

Eating to avoid constipation

Just about everybody gets constipated every now and then. It's not usually considered a problem unless you're having bowel movements fewer than three times a week. Before reaching for a laxative, you should know that the most common cause of constipation is your diet. Other culprits include dehydration, too little physical activity, and overuse of laxatives. Try these tips to get more “regular”:

  • High-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains prevent constipation. Too many low-fiber foods such as cheese, eggs, and meat can cause it. Aim to get 25 to 35 grams of fiber in your diet each day. Some high-fiber cereals offer more than half that amount in just one serving.
  • Not getting enough fluids is another cause of constipation, but some fluids are better than others. Your best bet is to drink water. Caffeine, colas, and alcoholic beverages can actually dehydrate you and make constipation worse.
  • Get some exercise every day. Walking 30 to 45 minutes a day won’t just help with your constipation, it will also improve your mood and your fitness level.
  • Ask your doctor if any of the medications you’re taking might be causing constipation and if there are any alternatives.

More eating tips for better digestion

No matter what your digestive health issues are, you’ll probably benefit from choosing whole foods over processed foods. Processed foods are foods that have been changed by food companies before you eat them. Whole foods are foods that are eaten in their natural state, like that shiny apple or juicy tomato.

Processed foods often have a lot of added (and unwanted) fat, sugar, and salt. A lot of their original nutrients may be lost as well. For instance, whole grains have their outer shells removed to become processed grains such as white flour. As a rule, whole foods are better for your digestive health and your overall health. Here are simple swaps to make:

  • Choose brown grains such as brown rice and steel-cut oatmeal over white grains like packaged pasta and white rice.
  • Choose whole fresh fruits and vegetables over canned fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid processed junk foods, desserts, sodas, juices with added sugar, canned soups, and snack foods.
  • Shop around the outside perimeter of your grocery store to find the whole foods.

 Most digestive complaints are short-lived and harmless. But if you notice any unusual symptoms that don’t go away, call your doctor.

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With summer in full swing, the conversation starts to switch to people sharing travel plans. Some people spend the whole summer working, relaxing at home or keeping kids busy with summer camps. Others make regular drives to the beach, and some embark on big journeys to new or favorite locations. Are you taking a summer vacation this year? Comment below with where you are going and feel free to share your favorite photograph of your vacation spot.

Are You Taking a Summer Vacation?

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As summer has arrived, many travelers are making their way across the globe for summer vacations. While it can seem expensive to take a trip, there may be some ways to save. How do you pinch pennies when you travel? Share your tips and tricks for vacation planning on a budget in the comments section below for this week's Hopkins Happenings Question of the Week.

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Garry CuttingGarry Cutting is a pediatrics professor in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine and is director of the CFTR2 project, a searchable database of information from people with cystic fibrosis. He is using big data to develop individualized treatments for people with cystic fibrosis, a debilitating disease caused by mutations in the CFTR gene.  

 

1. How is big data transforming treatments of cystic fibrosis? What sorts of information are being used to determine these treatments?

Clinical and genetic data collected from almost 40,000 individuals with cystic fibrosis is informing the development of a new generation of treatments that directly target the defective protein in cystic fibrosis. As there are hundreds of different defects to treat, we are assembling detailed profiles of the clinical features associated with each defect. These profiles will serve as a baseline for assessing the efficacy of molecular-based treatments.

2. How do you think big data will be used to treat cystic fibrosis in five years? Ten years?

The goal over the next five years is to have a molecular therapy for all individuals with cystic fibrosis. To achieve this, we are in the process of collecting data on all individuals with cystic fibrosis worldwide. While the new therapies are promising, individuals vary in their response and course of disease. Over the next 10 years, we propose to optimize outcomes by gathering genome-wide variation and specific environmental exposures from a fraction of individuals with cystic fibrosis. These data will be used to determine which combinations produce better outcomes and to create treatment profiles that can be applied to all individuals with cystic fibrosis.

3. How is big data transforming medicine in general? 

Big data is an appealing concept in medicine, as it promises new approaches to patient management and cost containment. By assembling and analyzing data from large groups of patients, it is believed that patterns will emerge that enable prospective rather than reactive management of health and disease.   

4. What are the current limitations of big data in medicine in terms of gathering data and computing power?  

To analyze data gathered as part of medical care, we must be able to draw information from electronic patient record systems. Unfortunately, there are many different electronic patient record systems, and they do not facilitate data exchange. A second challenge is the computing capacity required to handle very large datasets. A High Performance Research Computing Center at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center is coming online and should provide the necessary infrastructure. A third issue is the skilled personnel needed to assemble, verify and analyze the data. Programs that train data professionals are proliferating, and their graduates should fill the current gap. The final challenge is to present these data in formats that medical professionals will embrace and use to maintain the health of their patients in a cost-effective manner.

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A few months ago, on a chilly Saturday morning I decided to swing by Starbucks and grab a cinnamon dolce latte. Judging by the amount of cars in line, I was not the only one with this brilliant idea. When I got to the display, I placed my order and proceeded to the window to pay. The cashier notified me that payment would not be necessary today - the vehicle in front of me had paid for my drink. The kind-hearted soul in that while Grand Cherokee who had just been in front me paid it forward. Not only did it make my morning, it made a memory that I will never forget. Paying it forward is one of those things that shows just how amazing society can be. They didn't know me, yet they gave me a present that put a smile on my face. And, it is not uncommon anymore.

In a recent blog post, Peter Pronovost, senior vice president for patient safety and quality and director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine shares his story of how he was on the other end of paying it forward. He recounts his memories of paying it forward to someone else in a doughnut shop.

Have you ever paid it forward? Take this week's poll and share your story in the comments below? Or, have you been on the receiving end when someone else has paid it forward? Comment below with your story and how it made you feel.

Have you ever paid it forward?

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Sherwood Gardens With summer quickly approaching, many of us are fixing to get out of the house. But where does everyone go? Share your  favorite local day trip or long weekend spot in your area in the comments section below. Feel free to include hidden gems in your local area, such as Sherwood Gardens, pictured here, that features beautiful tulips annoucing the arrival of spring.

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June 15 is Father's Day. In honor of the upcoming holiday, share your favorite memory of your dad, or the best piece of advice he ever gave you on this week's Hopkins Happenings' Throwback Thursday. Feel free to include a picture and continue to share your comments through Father's day.

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