Author: Laurie Hursting

It doesn’t beep at the backseat

In 1993, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched the catchy “Click It or Ticket” campaign to increase seat belt usage by emphasizing the legal consequences of “freeriding” (which is also catchy and I just coined). The campaign was considered largely successful.

In our 21st century, the CDC puts 18-24 year olds as less likely to wear seat belts than older age groups, especially in the backseat. I painfully point out that these youths were likely not cognizant, maybe not even born yet, at the height of “Click It or Ticket.” It may be time for a reboot.

Enter “Buckle Up, Backseat,” a campaign idea to increase seat belt usage in backseat passengers. Tyler Lee, a first-year master’s student studying Strategic Communication, was kind enough to present this proposal to our class today. He described how a strong focus would be on ridesharing vehicles (like Uber, Lyft, or your average taxi) since they are widely used by 18-24 year olds. Tyler and team’s formative research found that attitudes on backseat passenger seat belt usage were notably laxer when in the context of rideshares.

So don’t “freeride” (wink wink, trademark pending), and instead remember to “Click It or Ticket” and “Buckle Up, Backseat.” Catchy phrases have power.

Love is all you need (that, and chocolate)

Hypothetically speaking of course, if one had no plans at all for this Wednesday and/or if that same someone muttered, “What’s this Wednesday,” one might recommend a day of self-care. Hallmark be darned! Regardless of plan status (or, you know, relationship status), self-love can be every day. I’m talking about healthy, happy choices.

Take a soak in the tub of love

Sprinkle some rose petals and rose water in there for some antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing action. Or pour in a glass of red wine! The polyphenols soften skin and antioxidants give you a boost.


Get you some dark chocolate. It’s high in iron, magnesium, and feel-good phenylethylamine. One to two ounces should do the trick.

Hit some zzz’s right in the bullseye with Cupid’s arrow

Pro tip: Sleeping naked helps the body regulate its temperature, which in turn helps decrease the stress hormone cortisol and balance melatonin.


If that’s not a romantic evening of self-care, I don’t know what is. Enjoy!

Deep in Flu Season

This season’s flu virus is particularly virulent (infectious and dangerous) as it involves the H3N2 strain. The flu vaccine in the U.S. is being reported as only 10% effective based on data from Australia, where the flu season is in the summer. It is more difficult to grow H3N2 in eggs for vaccines, and it also mutates at a faster rate than other strains as it moves through the population.

Flu hospitalizations have hit a new high compared to recent years. Alabama has declared a public health emergency, and school districts in Chicago and Florida have had to close. In North Carolina there have been nearly 100 flu-related deaths since October, more than double from last season’s flu over the same time period.

There is additionally a shortage of saline IV bags used to treat those hospitalized with the flu because almost half are made in Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria hit.

Remember to practice the staples of protective hygiene such as coughing into the crook of the arm and hand washing. Stay well!



Fitness trackers… well, they track

Currently in the headlines is that “U.S. soldiers are revealing sensitive and dangerous information by jogging,” an alarming accusation against aerobic exercise. More specifically, the GPS tracking company Strava published a global heat map of aggregate areas of fitness-device-wearer activity, brought to Twitter’s attention by an Australian student. The “sensitive and dangerous information” the headline was referring to is this public data of consistent patterns of activity around bases, information such as patrol routes and high-trafficked areas that can be turned into actionable intelligence.

So jogging is not the problem and as per military policy wearing activity trackers with Bluetooth and GPS functionality is not a problem either. You know those pesky Terms and Conditions, Statements of Privacy, the small print? They most likely are problematic and could improve in readability and clarity so that people will actually read them. However, I think the true problem here is an underestimation of daily tech implications and scope by everyone, not just the military. Strava, the tracking company, puts the responsibility on the consumer to understand and then accordingly adjust privacy settings. My concern is that default settings are counterintuitive—one has to opt out to gain privacy rather than consciously opt in to share data.



You can do it

Here we are, winding down the semester.  I want to take my last blog post of the year 2017 and share with y’all this little poem-ish reminder I wrote to help me through this push before the holidays.


Stop watching so much Netflix and do something fun yet productive. 🙂

Do what you’re passionate about!

Love yourself and be kind!

Post too many exclamation points if ya feel like it!!!!

Listen to music that makes you feel like how you want to feel

Find what works for you and it’s okay if that changes.

Appreciate the people around you!

Be yourself.

Open me,


These next two weeks may be stressful, but you can do it.  Remember to take care of your mind and body in addition to nurturing that intellect!


Could a lack of communication between older Americans and their healthcare providers increase the likelihood of a bad interaction? And by “bad interaction,” I don’t just mean interpersonally. The University of Michigan conducted a national poll of 1,690 Americans ages 50 to 80 and found that only 35% of those taking multiple medications had discussed possible drug interactions with a health professional in the past two years.

This lack of open-dialogue may be due to the transient nature of where we get our medication. Of the sample, 20% had used more than one pharmacy in the past two years. And even so, only 36% reported that their pharmacist definitely knew of all the medications they were taking. Alcohol, supplements, and certain foods can affect how the body responds to medication as can other medications.

Older adults especially may also be under the care of many different doctors and specialists, with 60% seeing more than one doctor. Addressing medication interactions can be challenging even when all the information is presented but when doctors don’t have the whole picture of which medications are at play, they very well could miss something. Electronic records and medical computer systems may be of assistance in flagging potential interactions, but a complete list of a patient’s medications is still necessary.

Patient-provider communication in recent years has been supplemented with patient portals and electronic paper trails, and I wonder if this older age group is slipping through the gap between interpersonal and electronic communication.


Get out that grocery list

Last week, we dove into nutrients that may help the body reduce stress and anxiety. Many of those nutrients were B vitamins! Now let’s take a look at some of the food sources naturally high in vitamins B1, 6, 9, and 12.

Vitamin B1

Vegetables: green peas, asparagus, spinach, acorn squash

Nuts: macadamia, pistachio

Seeds: sunflower, flax, sesame

Fish: trout, salmon, tuna

Pork: lean cuts (loin, tenderloin, chops)

Beans: edamame, navy, pink, black, mung

Vitamin B6

Fruit: dried prunes, dried apricots, raisins, bananas, avocados (I know—technically a fruit!)

Nuts: pistachio

Seeds: sunflower

Fish: tuna, salmon, halibut, swordfish, herring

Meat: lean pork, lean beef, turkey, chicken

Vitamin B9

Legumes: lentils, black eyed peas, mung, pinto, chickpeas, pink, lima, black, navy, kidney

Vegetables: spinach, turnip greens, asparagus, romaine lettuce, broccoli

Fruit: avocado, mango, pomegranate, papaya, oranges

Vitamin B12

Shellfish: clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, crab, lobster, crayfish, shrimp

Fish: salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, trout, striped bass

Meat: liver, beef steak

Dairy: milk, yogurt, swiss cheese

With finals coming up, do what you can for your body to not “B” stressed!

A Different Type of Stress Eating

Exercise has long been prescribed as a remedy to anxiety and stress. Are there certain nutrients that may help as well?

Vitamin B1: Prevents the production of excess lactic acid (often recognized as a biochemical factor in triggering anxiety).

Vitamin B6: Helps make mood-influencing neurotransmitters including serotonin, GABA, and norepinephrine.

Vitamin B9: Maintains homocysteine levels (high levels linked to anxiety) by converting into mood-stabilizing S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) and antioxidant glutathione.

Vitamin B12: Serves in production of methionine, precursor of SAMe, necessary for myelin sheath and nerve function.

Magnesium: Reduces lactic acid levels, binds to and stimulates GABA receptors, and can regulate the stress response by suppressing stress hormones.

Zinc: Stimulates enzymes necessary in the synthesis of serotonin and GABA.

Tryptophan: Acts as the amino acid precursor to serotonin.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Decreases proinflammatory cytokins, small proteins that interfere with the regulation of glutamate (a neurotransmitter that is associated with anxiety).

Vitamin C: Moderates the release of stress hormones like cortisol.

Check back next week for a post on what foods are a good source of these nutrients!

Garlic: bad breath, good health?

Yesterday was Halloween, and I hope y’all aren’t feeling too much like zombies after walking Franklin Street. See any vampire costumes?

Garlic is in the onion family. The separate sections that comprise the garlic bulb are cloves, and most of the health benefits come from when a clove is crushed or chewed when raw. This produces a sulfur compound, allicin.

In addition to allicin, garlic seems to be a nutrient powerhouse. Three cloves (9g) contain manganese (8% DV), Vitamin B6 (6%), Vitamin C (5%), calcium, selenium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, copper, and zinc.

Research has shown that garlic may:

  • Boost immune system
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Lower LDL cholesterol
  • Fight oxidants
  • Protect against heavy metal toxicity

Okay, but why the connection with vampires? Perhaps since garlic has been used as a known mosquito repellent, the connection between the bloodsuckers was made. Some also believe the legend of vampires possibly had its fangs in porphyria, and garlic exacerbates the symptoms of this disease.

Though unlikely you’ll need garlic for folkloric purposes, it may still be beneficial to add it to your diet!


Do you hear those coughs, sniffles, and sneezes?

It sounds like flu and cold season.

Fastidiously washing your hands won’t prevent Mark from coughing in your general direction (thanks Mark), or save you from an ill-timed sneeze. Breathing isn’t optional. But before you break out the Bubble Boy suit, here are a few more tips that will strengthen your chances of staying healthy even when those around you aren’t.

  1. Mark has coughed. This aerosol (i.e. spray) potentially contains infectious droplets. With flu droplets, the trajectory is likely less than six feet. You are unfortunately standing right next to him. Hold your breath for 10 to 15 seconds.
  2. If this keeps occurring and you feel comfortable, politely ask Mark to cough into the inside of his elbow. Make a light, yet pointed, joke about doing the “dab.”
  3. Mark has sneezed onto his desk. Your hand at some point comes in contact with that desk. Don’t touch your face.

Stay healthy my friends.