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Diseases & conditions

When healthy eating turns obsessive...

March 30, 2015 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

More and more people recognize the value of healthy eating. Even fast food chains are cashing in on this trend. Clean Eating, as we have seen in last week's blog, can improve your health by replacing junk and processed food with wholesome food that you prepare at home.

But alas, as with most things in life, too much of even a good thing can be too much. A case in point: while exercise is undoubtedly good for you, some people with exercise addiction definitely overdo it.

Does that mean that we can be addicted to healthy eating? Indeed, we can. There is even a term for this condition called Orthorexia Nervosa. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, it is an eating disorder where "orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity."

While most of us don't have to worry about being Health Food Junkies, here is a checklist of traits that may indicate that you or someone you know is taking healthy eating to an extreme:

  • Do you spend a lot of time each day thinking about your diet?
  • Do you plan your meals several days ahead?
  • Is the nutritional value of your meal more important than the pleasure of eating it?
  • Has the quality of your life decreased as the quality of your diet has increased?
  • Does your self-esteem get a boost from eating healthfully?
  • Have you given up foods you used to enjoy in order to eat healthy foods?
  • Does your diet make it difficult for you to eat out, distancing you from family and friends?
  • Do you feel guilty when you stray from your healthy diet?
  • Do you feel at peace with yourself and in total control when you eat healthfully?
  • Do you eat only healthy foods? 

For more information on Orthorexia Nervosa check out Dr. Bratman's book on Health Food Junkies. Other titles highlight issues of other eating disorders and exercise addiction.

    Health food junkies - overcoming the obsession with healthful eating  The truth about eating disorders  Almost anorexic - is my (or my loved one's) relationship with food a problem

    The exercise balance - what's too much, what's too little, and what's just right for you!  Understanding exercise addiction   Diary of an exercise addict - a memoir


Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week

December 1, 2014 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

December 1st to 6th is Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week. While there are no reliable data that capture the full extent of the HIV/AIDS epidemic amongst First Nations, Inuits and Métis populations in Canada, it is estimated that about 22 per cent of new cases of HIV occur among the Aboriginal population even though Aboriginal people represent only 3.3 per cent of the Canadian population. Even more alarming is the rate of HIV-positive tests among Aboriginal women. The National Aboriginal Health Organization's fact sheet has more data and reasons why Aboriginal people appear to be more vulnerable to HIV infection.

While searching for information on HIV/AIDS in Aboriginal people, I came across the Cree Medicine Wheel which shows the individual with HIV in the centre of the wheel surrounded by the seven teachings of the Ojibway Peoples - love, wisdom, truth, honesty, courage, respect and humility. Looks intriguing... Wholistic-model

For more information on HIV/AIDS check out Toronto Public Library's collection on HIV/AIDS and more specifically the Native Peoples Collection at the Spadina Road Branch, North York Central Library and Toronto Reference Library.

Ready for the flu shot but don't know where to get it?

October 23, 2014 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

A nurse injects a patient with a flu shot. The Canadian Press-Jeff McIntosh CityNewsWell, you are in luck. Toronto Public Health is launching its flu shot clinics as we speak. There are clinics all over the city, some of them in your Public Library. Click on the interactive map for hours and locations. If you don't want to wait in line, it may be a good idea to make an appointment. You can make your appointment online or call 416-338-7600 choosing option 3.


And it's a good idea to get your flu shot early since it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop. If you cannot make any of the clinic dates or the locations are not convenient, check with your doctor's office or your local pharmacy for their schedule.

For those of you who are still on the fence, undecided whether to get the flu shot or not, here is a number to call: Toronto Public Health Immunization Information Line 416-392-1250. You may also want to check out the following background information on this year's flu vaccine or put a hold on one of TPL's titles on influenza.

    100 questions & answers about influenza    Influenza - a century of science and public health response   Flu - alternative treatments and prevention - proven strategies to protect yourself and your family

      Achoo! stop the flu  Colds, the flu, and other infections  The flu



Is there a common link between Cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimer's?

September 19, 2014 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Morwenna Given, Medical Herbalist
To find out, please join us for a free health talk given by Morwenna Given, practising Medical Herbalist.  Ms. Given will talk about the basic and common molecular beginnings of Cancer, Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease and discuss how the pathologies of each disease is interlinked.

The talk will take place on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm in the Beeton Auditorium at the Toronto Reference Library.

Bring your questions! The talk is free and All are welcome. 

For more general information about the prevention of Cancer, Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease check out one of these books from our collection.


  L'alimentation anti-âge - bien manger pour bien vivre longtemps  Eating well, living well - an everyday guide for optimum health  The Alzheimer's prevention program - keep your brain healthy for the rest of your life

   Say no to cancer - the drug-free guide to preventing and helping fight cancer      Eat well age better - how to use diet and supplements to guard the lifelong health of your eyes, your heart, your brain, and your bones    Nutrition in the prevention and treatment of disease.


Diagnosed with fatty liver... what now?

July 14, 2014 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Liver Disease in Canada: A Crisis in the Making

According to a report by the Canadian Liver Foundation, an estimated 25% of Canadians, or 8.5 million people, are obese. Fatty Liver disease, which is directly linked to obesity, is the most common form of liver disease in Canada. This is an alarming correlation.

So what does it mean when you are diagnosed with fatty liver disease? Some fat in the liver is normal but if fat makes up more than 5%-10% of the weight of the liver, you may have alcoholic or nonalcoholic liver disease which may lead to serious complications. 

90%-100% of people who abuse alcohol develop fatty livers. But what about people who do not drink or drink moderately and still have fatty liver? Their condition is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The cause of NAFLD is not clear but obesity, high cholesterol/triglycerides, and insulin resistance go hand in hand with NAFLD.

Currently, there is no medical treatment for fatty liver disease but as Dr. Julie Chen put it, NAFLD should act as a wake-up call prompting us to make the necessary lifestyle changes to keep our cholesterol, sugar levels and weight in balance. 

Here are some titles in TPL's collection that you may want to check out on fatty liver and other liver disorders.

  Healing fatty liver disease - a complete health & diet guide, including 100 recipes     Fatty Liver You Can Reverse It Liver disorders - a Cleveland Clinic guide

   Dr. Melissa Palmer's guide to hepatitis and liver disease        Fast facts - liver disorders          The liver disorders and hepatitis sourcebook

June is ALS awareness month!

June 9, 2014 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Lou Gehrig's disease
ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also called Lou Gehrig's disease, is a rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease that attacks the nerve cells that transmit electrical impulses from the brain to the voluntary muscles in the body - your arms, legs, face etc., Once these electrical impulses are no longer received, the muscles lose strength, atrophy and die.

ALS affects approximately 5 out of every 100,000 people worldwide. You cannot 'catch' ALS and there are no known risk factors, although 1 in 10 cases is due to a genetic defect. 

For more information on ALS or to find out why ALS is commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, check out the ALS Society of British Columbia's Frequently Asked Questions site.

Here are also some helpful sites with more information and book titles you may want to borrow from the library:

       Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - a guide for patients and families       Motor neuron disease       Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

        Luckiest man - the life and death of Lou Gehrig       I remember running - the year I got everything I ever wanted-- and ALS    Morrie Schwartz lessons on living

       Rowing without oars    Stephen Hawking - an unfettered mind    So much, so fast one family's attempt to cure Lou Gehrig's Disease

        Until I say good-bye - my year of living with joy      You're not you - a novel        The happiness of Kati

Kidney Diet Information...

March 1, 2014 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Ever wonder what you can eat when you have kidney problems? While there is no standard 'kidney diet', the dietitians at the Kidney Foundation of Canada have lots of helpful suggestions. They can help you plan your meals, track your daily intake, provide mouthwatering dietitian approved recipes and answer your kidney related health questions.

Here are some sample fact sheets you can browse...

For more information on kidney disorders check out our earlier blog or peruse one of TPL's books on the subject.

   Handbook of nutrition and the kidney  Handbook of chronic kidney disease management  Kidney disease - a guide for living  Eating well, living well with kidney disease

   100 questions & answers about kidney disease and hypertension  100 questions & answers about kidney cancer  100 questions and answers about kidney dialysis  Handbook of kidney transplantation

    Urinary tract and kidney diseases and disorders sourcebook  The encyclopedia of kidney diseases and disorders  The renal system at a glance   Williams' basic nutrition and diet therapy




World AIDS Day -- December 1st

November 30, 2013 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


The Canadian AIDS Society's motto this year is to remind everyone, that the fight against HIV/AIDS is not over... Even if there has been a steady decline in HIV infections among newsborns and overall fewer AIDS-related deaths were reported due to improved antiretroviral therapies... the AIDS clock is still ticking.

According to the UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic 2013, an estimated 35.3 million people around the world were living with HIV and 1.6 million people worldwide died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2012.

In Canada, an estimated 71,300 Canadians were living with HIV, and an estimated 3,175 new HIV infections occurred in 2011. (source: CATIE)

For more information on the background, diagnosis and prevention of HIV and AIDS check out some of our earlier blogs or peruse one of our many books on the subject from your library.

  The origins of AIDS  AIDS at 30 - a history  Piecing the puzzle - the genesis of AIDS research in Africa  AIDS - taking a long-term view

  AIDS sourcebook - basic consumer health information about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)...  AIDS - science and society  What nurses know -- HIV and AIDS  Achieving an AIDS transition - preventing infections to sustain treatment

  A woman's guide to living with HIV infection    Birth in the age of AIDS - women, reproduction, and HIV and AIDS in India  HIV prevention and bisexual realities  AIDS

Keep track of your height for signs of osteoporosis

November 2, 2013 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Osteoporosis_month_2012November is Osteoporosis month and Osteoporosis Canada recommends that everyone over the age of 50 should take a height measurement annually. Why? While it's normal to lose a little height as we get older, losing 2cm or more may be a warning sign of a possible spine fracture due to osteoporosis. 

So how can you tell the difference between normal height loss and height loss due to osteoporosis?  By keeping track of your height! For most accurate measurements, ask your healthcare provider to measure and record your height. Check out the Osteoporosis Canada website for a template to record your measurements. And if the height loss is more than 2cm or 3/4" in height, ask your healthcare provider to be checked for osteoporosis. 

By the way, osteoporosis is not just a woman's disease. While more women than men will suffer a broken bone from osteoporosis, it is also a serious health issue for men. According to Osteoporosis Canada, approximately 30,000 hip fractures occur in Canada each year. From these, over a quarter occur in men and proportionally more men than women die as a result of a hip fracture within a year and/or will require care in a long-term facility.

For more information on prevention and treatments of osteoporosis check out the wide array of books at the Toronto Public Library.

  The Cleveland Clinic guide to osteoporosis   The complete book of bone health   100 questions & answers about osteoporosis and osteopenia   Exercises for osteoporosis - a safe and effective way to build bone density and muscle strength 3rd ed.

  Dr. Lani's No-Nonsense Bone Health Guide - The Truth about Density Testing, Osteoporosis Drugs, and Building Bone Quality at Any Age.   Gentle yoga for osteoporosis   The intelligent patient guide to osteoporosis   The whole-body approach to osteoporosis - how to improve bone strength and reduce your fracture risk

  Your bones - how you can prevent osteoporosis & have strong bones for life naturally  Yoga for osteoporosis - the complete guide Whole-food guide to strong bones - a holistic approach Unbreakable - a woman's triumph over osteoporosis


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

June 15, 2013 | Mariam | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada!

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is one among many common neurological conditionsALS attacks the nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.  These motor neurons degenerate and die, eventually leading to a loss of the ability to start and control any voluntary movements including swallowing.  There is no known cure or cause for ALS; however the disease has been linked to a genetic defect in 1 out of 10 cases. 

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Head drop due to weakness of the neck muscles
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle contractions called fasciculations
  • Muscle weakness that slowly gets worse
  • Paralysis
  • Speech problems, such as a slow or abnormal speech pattern (slurring of words)
  • Voice changes, hoarseness
  • Weight loss

Famous people with ALS: Lou Gehrig, Stephen HawkingDavid Niven, Mao Zedong

For more information on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis check out the following titles available at the Toronto Public Library:

 Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - a guide for patients and families   Motor neuron disease    Treating the brain - what the best doctors know   Lou Gehrig's Disease

Toronto Public Library helps find reliable, understandable health information for you and your family.