Prostate Cancer: Do You Know Your Risk?

Enrich - Published on September 11, 2017

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and second most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men. Prostate cancer screening with a risk assessment, prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and a digital rectal exam (DRE) detects cancer at an earlier stage than in men who have no screening. A positive screening does not mean that you have prostate cancer; a biopsy is required to determine if cancer is present.



There are certain risk factors associated with the development of prostate cancer, including:


  • Age: Risk increases with age.

  • Race: African American men are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with and to die from prostate cancer.

  • Family History: Men with a close relative who has prostate cancer are at an increased risk.

  • Diet: Studies show there may be a link between a diet higher in fat and prostate cancer.

  • Chemical Exposure: Men with a history of exposure to certain chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides, and veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are at a higher risk. Also, newer studies show that firefighters are at an increased risk.


The American Urological Association recommends screening at the following ages:

  • Average risk men benefit the most between the ages of 55 and 69.

  • High risk men between the ages of 40 and 54 should discuss screening with their healthcare provider.

  • Men age 70 and older should only be screened if in excellent health.


This annual screening takes into account a health history that assesses for risk, the PSA trend and the DRE to assess for the need for follow up.

Altru Health System will be offering a Free Prostate Cancer Screening on Wednesday, September 13. To register, please call 701.780.5396. 

LeAnneLeAnne Kilzer is the oncology resource nurse with Altru Cancer Center. In her role she coordinates screening and awareness events in the community, manages patient educational materials, educates staff on new chemotherapies and follows up with screenings. During her free time, LeAnne enjoys crafting and spending time with her two daughters.

Pre-race Tips From Performance Experts You’ll Want to Follow

Enrich - Published on September 8, 2017

Whether you are running your first 5k or you are an avid marathoner, it’s important to prepare properly before a race. Here are five tips you should be sure to check off of your list the day before and day-of a race.

1. Hydrate
Stay hydrated throughout the day of the race, and the day before the race to optimize concentration and reduce the risk of injury during performance. Water helps cushion joints and muscles, flush out toxins, deliver nutrients, regulate core temperature and improve brain activity. Try for 5-12 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes during the race, and 16 ounces before the race.

2Sleep Well
Sleep better, perform better. Adjust your sleeping environment to what personally fits your needs. For example, turn off your phone or the television if they tend to distract you during or before sleep. Adjust your bedroom temperature to what makes you the most comfortable (ignore the heating/cooling bill the week before a race – good sleep is worth it!). Also try a hot bath or shower before you go to bed along with relaxation breathing techniques to slow down your sympathetic nervous system, preparing you for an optimal sleep.

3. Foam Roll
Before a race, use a foam roller prior to an active warm-up. Foam rollers work on your soft tissue which enhances circulation of blood flow through your muscles, increases joint range of motion, removes metabolic waste products (tightness), and assists in fixing muscle imbalances allowing for proper movement patterns. A foam roller can be used on most areas of the body; focus on legs and back before running.

Watch Paul Ewbank, performance manager with Altru's Sports Advantage, demonstrate foam rolling:



4Have a Nutrition Plan
It’s important to think about your nutrition before a race to ensure that you are fueling your body properly. Planning out meals for the night before and day-of a race can help your body perform its best.

The night before the race:
Eat similar to what you have been eating during training. This is not the time to incorporate new foods into your fueling plan. Nutrition rules to follow during training include:


  • Fuel with carbohydrates (about 300 grams of carbs at meals and as snacks). Carbohydrate sources might include: rice, potatoes, corn, squash, fruits and vegetables.

  • Moderate fiber intake.

  • Go easy on fats.

  • Don’t forget to hydrate.


The day of the race:
Eat familiar and easy-to-digest foods. Follow this nutrition timeline to keep yourself fueled:

  • 3-4 hours prior to the race:

    • Fuel with carbohydrates.

    • Incorporate low-fat protein options.

    • Go easy on fat and fiber.

    • Drink plenty of Fluids.



  • 1 hour prior to the race:

    • Emphasize liquids and easy-to-digest carbs.

    • Avoid protein, fat and fiber.




5Include an Active, Dynamic Warm-up
An active or dynamic warm-up coordinates all of your moving parts (muscles, ligaments and tendons). An active warm-up ensures immediate range of motion improvement through your joints by actively stretching your muscles, increasing your heart rate, reinforcing great posture and leaving you ready to hit the ground running. Try these five moves to refresh your warm up.

Most of all, try not to stress out about your PR, performance or other race anxieties. Stay calm and excited about what you are about to accomplish. Have a great run.

Katelyn Klapprodt is a performance specialist with Altru's Sports Advantage powered by EXOS. She is also a member/ professional intern for the University of North Dakota Strength and Conditioning team for Women’s Basketball and Men’s Football programs. If she is not studying, working, or lifting, Katelyn enjoys spending time outside enjoying activities that promote a healthy lifestyle and spending time with her friends and family.

Healthy Heart & Sweet Tooth: Can They Be Friends?

Enrich - Published on September 6, 2017

Most humans are born with a natural sweet tooth, craving sugar at the most unusual times. It usually occurs when you are done eating a nutritious meal that was full of fruits, vegetables and proteins. Your body starts to crave sugar, and you just can’t help yourself. Sugar is a carbohydrate that is made from the separation of the sugar itself from a sugar beet or cane, which results in 99.95 percent pure sucrose, or sugar.



Sugar’s Effect on Cardiovascular Disease Development
Many people tend to overlook sugar as a detriment to cardiovascular health, although it is a very important contributor. Sugar causes an inflammatory response, which in turn damages the lining of your arteries. Low-density lipoprotein builds up within the damaged lining and causes Atherosclerosis, which is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke, and most likely will lead to a heart attack.

In a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that participants who consumed greater than or equal to 10 percent but less than 25 percent of calories from added sugar had a 30 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. Further, those who consumed more the 25 percent of calories from added sugar had a tripled risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.

Recommended Sugar Intake
Without knowing, you are more than likely consuming more sugar than recommended. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons, or 100 calories, a day of sugar and that men consume no more than nine teaspoons, or 150 calories, a day of sugar.

In comparison, a can of Pepsi, which is 12 fluid ounces, contains 150 total calories and 41 grams from sugar alone. Cutting out such beverages would decrease your sugar intake immensely, and allow for your sugar intake to come from natural sources, such as fruits and vegetables. A heart-healthy diet would include limiting sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars and alcohol.

What Foods Do Sugars Come From?
Some of the most popular foods and beverages that added sugars come from include:


  • Soda, sports & energy drinks

  • Candy bars

  • Desserts, such as cake, cookies and ice cream

  • Sweetened yogurt


Some foods that have naturally occurring sugars. Examples include:

  • Citrus fruits like grapefruits, oranges and limes

  • Blueberries and blackberries

  • Tomatoes and avocados

  • Celery and cucumber

  • Squash and carrots

  • Bell peppers and onions

  • Asparagus and broccoli 




Recommendations to Reduce Sugar
Some ways to reduce added sugars from your diet include:

  • Reduce the amount of sugary drinks; replace them with low-calorie or sugar-free options.

  • Have fruit for dessert instead of a piece of cake or cookie.

  • Read food labels and pay attention to the amount of sugar in the items you are purchasing.

  • Before going to a restaurant, look up their menu online and see if the nutrition facts are available.

  • Be aware of the amount of condiments and sauces you are using, which can typically be high in sugar. 


In order to avoid serious health complications, especially cardiovascular disease, reducing sugar is the way to go. To learn more about heart healthy habits, visit altru.org/heart

Allie Harvey is a senior attending the University of North Dakota. Her major is Community Nutrition, and she is spending her semester working with Jennifer Haugen, a dietitian at Altru. Allie is from Lakeville, Minnesota, and is one of four children. In her spare time, Allie loves to play sports such as hockey and soccer, listen to music, and hang out with her sorority sisters. Allie has always had a passion for nutrition and is growing more and more each day through her work with Jennifer.

Learn to Meal Plan + Prep for Less Stress

Enrich - Published on September 6, 2017

Fall is fast approaching, a time filled with school activities, sporting events and a kickoff to the holiday season. Just as it’s time to put away the shorts and bring out the sweatshirts, it’s time to put away the grill and bring out the slow cookers.



A few simple meal planning steps can help you save time, money and stress while feeding yourself and your family nutritious, well-balanced meals. Give these practical tips a whirl as you rush off to football games and pumpkin patches.


  • With the input of your family create a list of favorite meals and post it in the cupboard. As you try new recipes that most everyone likes, add them to the list.



  • Look at your family’s schedule for the week to see which meals will be prepared at home. Do you need a crockpot meal, or something quick and easy coupled with a fruit and vegetable? Post the meal plan along with your family’s schedule that may interfere with meal prep on the refrigerator.



  • Keep a grocery list in the kitchen where everyone can see it. As you run out of staple foods, add them to the list and instruct your family members to do the same. 



  • Create a weekly meal plan. Keep it simple and start with your family’s main meal. Use themes to help you with ideas such as: Pizza Party Sunday, Meatless Monday, Crock Pot Tuesday, Soup and Sandwich Wednesday, Pasta Thursday, From the Freezer Friday, and leftovers on Saturday. Involve your family as much as possible in the planning process. 



  • Include at least three to four food groups in your meals. Keep in mind that half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables, one fourth protein, one fourth grains and a serving of dairy or dairy substitute on the side. For dessert, consider baking apples with cinnamon in the slow cooker; add cool vanilla Greek yogurt for a sweet treat. 



  • Eat seasonally. Fall is a great time for several flavor-packed, versatile fruits and vegetables. Roast a butternut squash with herbs, garlic and olive oil until golden brown. For a simple side dish, toss fresh cauliflower florets with a few tablespoons of olive oil, pepper and chopped garlic. Roast in oven at 425 degrees until caramelized and crispy. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.



  • Don’t forgot to plan your breakfasts, even in the middle of a hectic schedule. Try oatmeal with a dab of pumpkin puree, all-spice and cinnamon to fit the season and give you a change of pace. Or, try a creamy fall smoothie such as:

    • Apple Crisp Smoothie: apples, yogurt, oats and cinnamon

    • Fall Green Smoothie: almond milk, kale, pear, green grapes and ½ banana 






Other meal planning ideas include:

  • Plan a meal swap with your friends. Each take a night of the week to prepare a meal for everyone’s family. You may have to cook four of the same meals on one night but the other nights, one of your friends will be delivering a meal to you!



  • Batch cooking either with a group of friends or by yourself. You can prepare meals, freeze and take out as needed. If you’re cooking ground beef, cook several pounds at once and re-freeze in one-pound packages. Or cook up several pounds of chicken in the crock pot, shred, repackage and use in hot dish, salads, tacos and soups. (Try this Spicy Taco Soup.)





  • Use “planned-overs.” Leftover chicken can be shredded and used for chicken salad, chicken tacos or BBQ chicken sandwiches. Cook a double batch of spaghetti sauce and use it to make a lasagna or freeze to use later.


Think of it this way: Time spent creating a meal plan takes about the same time as driving to a fast food restaurant. Instead of one meal, you will have a week’s worth of healthy meals to feed you and your family. Fuel up on the right stuff, and focus on what matters most: making wonderful memories together this fall.

For more healthy recipes approved by Altru’s dietitians, visit altru.org/recipes.

See also: A Dietitian's Tips for Long-Lasting Fullness

Becky WesterengWestereng, Becky 4C is a registered dietitian at Altru Health System. She is a diabetes educator and certified in sports nutrition. Becky is especially interested in helping people improve their eating and exercise habits by encouraging small steps and a positive attitude. She enjoys spending time with her husband and watching her three children perform music and play sports, while finding time to stay active herself.

Living With Heart Disease? Know What Medicine is Safe to Take

Enrich - Published on September 5, 2017

For someone recently diagnosed with a heart disease, it might be difficult to know what is safe and what is not. Balancing exercise with healthy eating can be overwhelming, but there’s also another issue that can cause stress and confusion. That issue is how to know which medications you can or can’t take with a congestive heart failure diagnosis.

It is important to remember if you have any questions, concerns or doubts to contact your primary care provider or cardiologist before taking any medication.

What to Avoid
One rule to remember if you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure is to never take medicines that speed up your heart rate, increase your blood pressure or contain sodium, unless you have been instructed to specifically by your provider.

For over the counter medications, here are some to avoid:


  • Over the counter medication with sodium, such as antacids or laxatives.

  • Over the counter medication that contain pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, such as Sudafed, Contrex, Nyquil.

  • Protein shakes or supplements containing ephedrine, such as ma huang or Herbalife.

  • Over the counter medication or herbs containing oxymetazoline, which includes nasal sprays like Afrin and Dristan.

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Naproxen (Aleve).


Make sure you read the label of the OTC medication to ensure none of these medications are not in it.



Proceed with Caution (& Provider Direction)
When being prescribed any of these medications, make sure you discuss the benefits and side effects with your primary care provider or cardiologist first:

  • Calcium channel blockers: Commonly prescribed for many different heart related-diseases, these interrupt the movement of calcium to the heart which relaxes blood vessels and increases blood and oxygen supply to the heart, reducing the heart’s workload.

  • Antiarrhythmic medications: Known to treat abnormal heart rhythms, there can be some side effects, so if you’re on these medications make sure to discuss with your cardiologist.

  • Many pain relievers are safe, but may contain a combination including NSAIDs, so consult with your provider when prescribed.

  • There are some over the counter medications, such as cold remedy medications, antacids or laxatives that are safe, consult your pharmacist before purchasing.


The fact that some medications can cause problems for people with heart failure might seem overwhelming, but there are some that are typically safe to take. It’s important to work with your specialist and your pharmacist to make sure you understand what’s right for you and that your dosage is accurate and easy to follow.



Options to Consider
Acetaminophen, like Tylenol, is a great pain reliever and fever reducer that is safe to take with heart failure, unless otherwise directed by your provider.

Since this can be a lot to take in, here are some ways that you can help ensure you are staying safe with medication when living with heart failure:

  • Be sure that you keep up with your routine care and provider visits. Staying in touch with your doctor or physician team on the medications you take and how they’re affecting you is paramount to your health and safety.

  • You’ll also want to setup a stringent routine for taking any prescribed medications. Set alarms on your phone, or use a medication container so you can sort out medications and avoid mistakes.

  • Ask your spouse or a loved one to keep you in check so you don’t forget to take something you’re supposed to.

  • Mark medications that aren’t safe for you to take, like Advil or Aleve, so you don’t take them by mistake. Other family members may continue to take these, but you’ll want to be sure you don’t.


If you have any questions or concerns about safely taking medication while living with heart failure, connect with your primary care provider or cardiologist. You can use MyHealth to send them messages and get quick answers to ease your mind.

Altru’s Heart & Vascular team is always here to help you keep your heart in check. To learn more about our team and services, visit altru.org/heart.

A graduate of the University of North Dakota with a bachelor’s of science in nursing and master’s of science in the family nurse practitioner program, Paula Ricke provides care in cardiology as part of Altru’s Heart and Vascular team. She has been with Altru for two years. Paula's primary focus is treating patients with congestive heart failure. In her free time, she enjoys golfing and watching football and hockey.  

5 Overrated Foods that Get More Credit Than Deserved

Enrich - Published on August 4, 2017

With social media and food blogging being more prevalent than ever, many foods are becoming just as trendy as Taylor Swift! These superstars are deemed “superfoods” for a variety of reasons, perhaps due to their notable antioxidant content or perceived fat-burning abilities. The thing is, not all of these health claims are factual, evidence-based or made by experts.

I recently asked our athletes and clients at Sports Advantage to list foods they believe to be “overrated”. Overrated foods are those that get way more credit than they deserve; when it comes down to overall nutrition, they aren’t that “super” thus do not deserve celebrity status.

Five Overrated Foods

1. Cereal
Cold cereal is probably the easiest, most convenient breakfast option, making it a “good choice” for busy people. Unfortunately, it’s one of the least nutritious options, even if it “contains whole grains.” Did you know many breakfast cereals are higher in sugar than pastries, like cookies and cakes? Cereal is extremely processed, providing an inadequate amount of nutrients and little fiber to keep you full. Adding whole grains, artificial vitamins and minerals does NOT make cereal a healthy choice. Sugar is usually one of the first three ingredients listed, which causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin. This often results in craving another high carb/sugar meal or snack a few hours later. Here are more nutritious, balanced breakfast options that take five minutes or less to prepare and keep you full longer:


  • Whole wheat toast + natural peanut butter + banana

  • Whole wheat English muffin + eggs + avocado

  • Greek yogurt + berries + small handful of raw nuts

  • Quick oats + raisins + walnuts + cinnamon

  • Smoothie: plain Greek yogurt + fruit + spinach

  • Overnight oats; they’re ready when you wake up!




2. Salad
Salads are tricky, because they could be one of the best OR one of the worst items on a menu. For example, an apple pecan chicken salad may sound healthy, but it can have over 80g of fat and 1,300 calories! A garden salad should contain things that would come from a garden, like cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots, NOT croutons and cheese. If you’re trying to make the healthy choice by choosing a salad for your meal, make sure to read the ingredients and follow these guidelines:

  • Select darker greens when possible (spinach, kale, arugula or mixed greens)

  • Aim for three colors from fruits and/or veggies (greens, cucumber, tomato, carrot, strawberries, etc.)

  • Pick a lean protein (grilled chicken, salmon, beans, etc.); say no to “crispy” or breaded items

  • Top it off with a healthy fat; 2-3 tablespoons is an appropriate serving (avocado, seeds, raw nuts)

  • Look for red flags: croutons, tortilla chips, wontons, large amounts of cheese, candied nuts, dried fruit, multiple protein sources (chicken and hard-boiled eggs and bacon) and creamy dressings.

  • Easy on the dressing! Salad dressings alone often pack more fat and calories than the entire salad, so it can truly make or break the nutritional value of this meal. One serving of traditional ranch dressing is two tablespoons and about 150 calories. Most restaurants use four tablespoons, so you’re already at 300 calories... from just the dressing! 




Dressing do’s and don’ts:

  • Do order it on the side: you’ll likely get the same quantity, however you’re now in control of how much you use.

  • Do avoid creamy dressings: vinaigrettes are often the better choice such a balsamic or oil & vinegar. If creamy dressings are the only way you enjoy salad, look for Greek yogurt based dressings or consider making your own.

  • Don’t be fooled by fat-free dressings: though lower in calories, most fat-free products contain more added sugars than its regular counterpart.

  • Do use alternatives. Consider using salsa, guacamole, cottage cheese (as a protein and dressing) or hummus instead of traditional salad dressings.


Example 1: spinach + cucumber slices + red onion + strawberries + grilled chicken + pecans + balsamic vinaigrette

Example 2: mixed greens + cherry tomato + carrot + black beans + guacamole + salsa

3. Smoothies
Like salad, “smoothie” is one of those words that screams healthy. Once again, smoothies can be one of the best or worst options, depending on the contents. A healthy snack should typically be less than 250 calories; however, store-bought and even homemade smoothies might pack more than 800 calories! For many, that’s half a day’s caloric intake in just a few gulps. For people seeking to lose or maintain their weight, keep in mind that approximately 150-250 calories is an appropriate snack serving, while 400-500 calories is a meal. Here are some tips for making a healthy, balanced smoothie:

  • Pick your protein: plain Greek yogurt, protein powder, silken tofu, milk

  • Choose a liquid: water, dairy-free milk (almond, cashew, soy, etc.) or milk, if it’s not your protein source

  • Sweeten with fruit: fresh or frozen berries, banana, pineapple, mango, etc.

  • Sneak in a veggie: smoothies are a great way to get more veggies in, especially if you don’t like them (spinach, cucumber, kale, etc.)

  • Finish off with healthy fat: add a sprinkle (1-2 Tbsp) of seeds (flax, hemp, etc.) to add some omega 3’s and/or add some natural nut butter to turn a snack into a meal (almond butter, natural peanut butter, etc.)


Snack example (≤ 250kcal): ½ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt + 1 cup water or unsweetened almond milk + 1 cup frozen berries + 1 cup raw spinach + 1 Tbsp flaxseed

Meal example (400-500kcal): 1 scoop protein powder + 1 cup almond milk + 1 frozen banana + 1 Tbsp flaxseed + 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter 

4. Nutrition/Granola Bars
Granola is another misleading term. Did you know that one cup of granola can pack up to 600 calories, with 250 calories coming from fat? Though extremely convenient, most store-bought nutrition/granola bars aren’t that much better. Sugar is often one of the first 3-5 ingredients, and many bars contain several unnecessary ingredients, some of which I cannot even pronounce. When it comes to granola bars, your best bet is to look for the following:

  • 10 ingredients or less, with sugar being one of the very last ingredients

  • Ingredients you can recognize and pronounce

  • 3g of fiber or more

  • Naturally sweetened with fruit (dates, apples, etc.)

  • Contains healthy fats (nuts and/or seeds)


Popular products that meet these guidelines include Larabars and RX Bars. Another easy, healthy snack option consists of pairing a serving of unsalted nuts (1 oz) with a fruit. For example, almonds and an apple. 

5. Sports Beverages
My favorite topic. Why? Because most people think sports beverages like Gatorade are healthy because a) athletes drink them all the time and b) famous (fit) athletes like Sydney Crosby promote it on TV. Sports beverages have a time and place; they have a purpose. Just because you’re an athlete or exercise daily, you shouldn’t be drinking them throughout the day, or at all. Sports beverages have two main components: sugar and electrolytes. One does not need sugar and electrolytes when at the movie theatre, the mall or even watching a sports game out in the heat. You might as well be drinking a soda (since they’re both extremely high in added sugar). The only time you might benefit from or need a sports beverage is:

  • When exercise is > 90 minutes

  • During high-intensity exercise

  • While exercising in humid environments


What do these situations have in common? Chances are, you are sweating. If you’re not in these situations, hydrate by drinking water. Aim for at least ½ your body weight in ounces per day. For example, someone that is 150 lbs should consume a minimum of 75 oz of pure water per day.



Dietitian Takeaway
A healthy diet is all about balance. This means you can still have your favorite breakfast cereal or smoothie, just have it less often and in appropriate amounts. For example, if you eat a bowl of cereal every single day, try having one bowl per week instead. If you’re a ranch dressing lover, order it on the side, look for a healthier brand (such as OPA by Litehouse) or try making it yourself. There are thousands of recipes available online to make healthier versions of popular meals, snacks and sweets so you can enjoy your favorite foods, and reap the nutrition benefits, too!

Danielle Rancourt700x700_Rancourt is a performance dietitian with Sports Advantage. She enjoys cooking, baking, working out and spending time outdoors to keep busy.

Helping Quitters Win

Enrich - Published on July 13, 2017

Altru’s Tobacco Cessation Services offer the keys to helping you stay a quitter and become the winner.

Quitting tobacco at any time in your life is the best thing you can do for your health and the health of those around you. In addition to saving money, you’ll also have more time with your loved ones.

As good as it is to do, quitting is hard. Even more, your surroundings may make it easy to fall back into old routine. Fortunately, Altru’s Tobacco Cessation Services provide one-on-one counseling by giving the most up-to-date information on tobacco.

The Program


Altru’s therapists are experts at helping you quit. With training through Mayo Clinic’s Certified Tobacco Treatment Program, we use motivational interviewing skills to help you devise a plan and get to the root of tobacco addition. Our goal is to provide education and support for any journey to a smoke-free life.

Depending on the patient, each can receive four sessions to meet with the certified tobacco treatment specialists. These sessions can be arranged based on the patient’s schedule – weekly, bi-weekly and even monthly. Best of all, if a patient reverts to using again, we can provide another four-week session in the year. The most successful platform is where one-on-one counseling is combined with a nicotine replacement therapy program (NRT). In addition to our program, we also recommend using your state’s quit line – ND Quits or MN QUITPLAN – for additional support.

The Vaping Alternative

Vaping isn’t a good alternative to using tobacco. “Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of research studies on the lasting effects of vaping on the body,” Brien notes. Available research does show that many of the same harmful cancer-causing chemicals in cigarettes are also in e-cigarettes. “I personally don’t encourage e-cigarette use, especially when trying to quit smoking.”

Baby and Me Tobacco Free


Altru participates in Baby and Me Tobacco Free, offered by the North Dakota Department of Health. This program helps pregnant moms and mothers of newborns quit using tobacco and create a healthier environment for herself and her baby.

Eligible participants include pregnant women who currently smoke or who were a daily smoker at least three months prior to becoming pregnant. The program offers tobacco treatment and counseling including screenings for tobacco use, practical incentives and monitoring for success.

Simple Goal


Our goal is simple. No matter where anyone is in their quitting process, we want to help you become tobacco-free. We understand the science behind addiction can help you with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Most insurance policies cover the cost of the sessions. You’ll want to check with your individual plan for benefit details. Cessation medications may also be available at reduced and/or no cost for those who qualify from Altru Health Foundation.

If you are ready to quit, Altru is here to help. Call our certified tobacco treatment specialists at 701.780.5347.

Nicole Brien, Disease Management Educator with Altru Health System, has long had a passion for healthcare. She began at Altru as a respiratory therapist in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in 2007. Soon thereafter, she followed her passion to provide education related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and tobacco cessation for Altru’s inpatient population. Most recently, she’s been dedicated to helping pregnant moms quit smoking and she helped to establish a tobacco cessation program for the broader population. Nicole enjoys spending time with her family including two beautiful daughters, a dog and two cats. In her spare time, she enjoys crocheting, going to the movies, fishing and spending as much time at the lake as possible.

Stay Up-to-Date on Your Child’s Health | C & TC Visits in Minnesota

Enrich - Published on July 7, 2017

What if there was a way to inexpensively make sure your child was healthy and you had the opportunity to ask a physician all of the health and medical questions you’ve been asking Google? In Minnesota, there is an easy way, and it’s called Child and Teen Checkup visits.



Child and Teen Checkups or C & TC visits are offered throughout the state of Minnesota. Many children and teens are already receiving annual sports physicals, but it is important parents and children aren’t solely relying on a sports physical as their primary doctor visit. A C & TC visit will cover much more ground and be a better source of information.

What will they do at a C & TC visit?
You can expect a C & TC visit to include a head-to-toe physical exam, immunizations, a hearing and a vision exam, lab tests to check for diseases and exposures, a development and growth check, and referral to a dentist who will do an oral checkup.



Who can get a checkup?
Every child, teen and young adult should be receiving regular checkups, but how often is regular?


  • Babies: birth and one month and then at two, four, six, nine, twelve, fifteen and eighteen months.

  • Toddlers: yearly checkup at ages two, three, four, five and six

  • Children and Teens: every other year from ages six to 20


Why get a checkup?
These visits are accepted as the required physical examinations and checkups for programs such as:

  • Head Start

  • WIC

  • School

  • Childcare

  • Sports


The checkups are important for so many reasons, including having the peace of mind that your child is healthy and developing and growing well. By having regular checkups in children and teens, healthcare providers can detect and treat any health or oral issues early on. The lab tests that are done in C & TC visits will also determine if the child has anemia or has been exposed to things like lead or Tuberculosis.

You will receive important information about your child’s health from the provider at the checkups. These regular visits are also the perfect time for you or your child to ask questions or bring up any concerns that you may be having.



A common topic that might be brought up is vaccinations, especially vaccinations that are highly recommended but not yet required, like the HPV vaccine. It is recommended that all boys and girls ages 11 and 12 should receive an HPV shot to prevent the spread of HPV, as well as certain cancers in the future. Learn more about the HPV vaccine available at Altru Health System.

Carrie Clauson, PA, has been practicing at Altru Clinic in Crookston since 2006 as a Family Medicine provider. She sees patients of all ages and treats both acute and chronic conditions. She lives in Crookston with her husband, Rich, and two kids, Kaylie and Ryan. In her free time, Carrie enjoys golfing, traveling and watching the kids partake in many activities.

7 Nutrition Trends: Mythbusting with Altru Dietitians

It's Altru - Published on June 27, 2017

New nutrition trends pop up online and in health magazines all the time. With so much advice floating around, it’s easy to get confused about the right foods to eat. We went straight to the experts—Altru’s dietitians—and asked them to bust three popular nutrition trends. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Myth: Gluten free diets result in weight loss. 

Truth: A gluten free diet is followed when someone has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. A gluten free diet consists of eliminating barley, rye, oats and wheat. Weight loss may occur if you eliminate most chips, cookies and desserts. If the chips, cookies and desserts are replaced with gluten free items, the calories are usually the same, due to using a different form of flour. So, if you haven’t been diagnosed with Celiac and want to lose weight, reducing calories and increasing exercise is the way to go.



2. Myth: Juicing (the process of removing juice from fresh fruits and vegetables) results in weight loss. 

Truth: Juicing is no healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables. Juice is often lower in nutrients, and the fiber content is near zero. Whole foods usually contain more vitamins and minerals, as many of these nutrients are in or near the skin, which gets discarded as pulp when juiced. Your body does not absorb nutrients better in juice form.

Yet, juicing isn’t all bad. Additional truths:


  • Some juicers do reserve the extracted pulp. This fiber-rich pulp can be added to soups, stew and quick breads for added benefit.

  • Juicing may improve nutritional intake by incorporating fruits and veggies that may not get eaten due to flavor or texture preferences.

  • Juicing can be used as part of a sensible weight loss program, which would also include a variety of nutritious whole foods.


The bottom line: when enjoyed in moderation, fresh-squeezed juice can be a nice way to get in more vitamins and minerals from a variety of fruits and vegetables. However, the best way to lose weight and promote optimal health is to eat a well-balanced diet made up of foods from all food groups.

3. Myth: Since dietary supplements are easily available – and don’t require a prescription – they are safer than drug products and can be used to self-treat illness without a health professional’s advice or supervision. 

Truth: Taking supplements will not necessarily improve your performance and can be dangerous. More is not better. Studies have shown that some herbal products interact with drugs and can have a wide range of effects, including:

  • John’s Wort may interfere with drugs used by organ transplant patients, and drugs used to treat depression, seizures and certain cancers

  • Some alter effectiveness of oral contraceptives

  • Garlic, ginko, danshen and dong quai can cause the blood to thin


Always consult with your health care professional prior to taking dietary supplements.

4. Myth: Avoid carbohydrates to lose weight. 

Truth: Cutting back on carbs may help you lose weight in the short term, but this is mainly because you are eating less food and calories. Significantly reducing carbohydrates means you will miss out on nutritional benefits provided by healthy choices, such as whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, dairy, and dried peas and beans. Low carb diets are restrictive and hard to follow. The weight you lose will likely be regained.  



5. Myth: Coconut oil is healthier than olive oil.

Truth: Coconut oil does not offer any more health benefits beyond olive oil. In fact, it may be unhealthy if consumed in large amounts due to its saturated fat content.

Coconut oil is rapidly increasing in popularity and health claims range from helping people lose weight to curing Alzheimer’s disease. There are two basic categories of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Coconut oil is about 90 percent saturated fat. Too much saturated fat in the diet can raise LDL “bad” cholesterol, which increases the risk for heart disease. It also raises HDL “good” cholesterol.

Olive oil is mainly an unsaturated fat, and unsaturated fats lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and raise HDL “good” cholesterol. Coconut oil can be used occasionally for its flavor or to replace other hard fat sources, such as vegetable shortening in baking.

6. Myth: A healthy diet is too expensive.

Truth: Consider not only the cost at the grocery store, but also the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases. It’s possible to eat well on a budget.

Obesity, heart disease and diabetes could be dramatically reduced by a healthy diet. While groceries do add up quickly, it’s difficult to put a price on healthy eating. To help keep healthy foods a part of any budget, keep the following in mind:

  • Get into the habit of menu planning and shopping from a list. Avoid wandering aimlessly through the store, picking up items you might end up using.

  • Pay attention at the checkout. Make sure prices are tallied correctly.

  • Buy store brands. These are often 15-20 percent less expensive when compared to national brands, while the quality is very similar.

  • Shop the perimeter of the store to avoid tempting convenience items in the middle aisles. These are often less healthy and more expensive.

  • Use coupons and watch sales to take advantage of great deals. Remember: the deal isn’t so great if you don’t need the food or won’t use it.

  • Eggs, beans, canned tuna, frozen veggies, peanut butter and seasonal fruits and veggies are a few healthy foods that won’t break the bank.

  • Plan a meatless meal once or twice a week. (See Myth #3.)




7. Myth: A vegetarian diet does not provide enough protein.

Truth: Protein doesn’t just come from animal products. Beans, nuts and whole grains can provide ample protein for almost everyone as part of a well-planned diet.

Plant-based proteins are loaded with other nutrients as well: fiber, folate, potassium and antioxidants, to name a few. Substituting meat for beans and using animal protein as an accent rather than the main event of a dish are effective strategies to prepare filling and nutritious meals. Eating plant-based protein sources may also help you lose weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and slash your risk of cancer and heart disease.

Lifestyle modification, rather than quick fixes, is the way to go for long-term weight loss and maintenance. If you are looking to manage your weight by changing your diet and exercise for the better, check out Altru’s Weight Management Program or visit with one of our dietitians.

Hear from a Doctor without Leaving Home

It's Altru - Published on June 14, 2017

Sharing concerns with your doctor, scheduling appointments and getting access to your medical information has never been this easy. With eVisits and MyHealth, Altru Health System is becoming more present online.

Altru eVisits
Have you ever had a little cough that you just weren’t sure about or a rash that didn’t seem quite worth a trip to the hospital?

Now by using Altru eVisits, you can tell Altru professionals your symptoms right on your smartphone or your computer. You even have the ability to add a picture to your eVisit if your concern is something visible. By doing so, an Altru provider can diagnose you online, give you a plan of action and/or send in your prescription. Or, they can let you know that it is worth coming in to have a physician look at it in person.

Altru eVisits are great in many different instances and will have a positive impact on:


  • Patients with busy schedules

  • Out-out-town patients

  • Patients with limited mobility

  • Visits that don’t require physical interaction


If you have a specific issue that isn’t an emergency, there is a good chance it can be resolved by an Altru eVisit. Remember, if your medical issue is urgent, do not wait for an eVisit consult.

Although it is a very exciting opportunity, before you jump right into your first eVisit, you must have already been a patient with Altru Health System and have an established MyHealth account. Log on to your MyHealth account to initiate an eVisit.



MyHealth
Along with our new online visits, Altru offers MyHealth online medical site. By being a former patient of Altru and by signing up for a MyHealth account you can:

  • Communicate with your provider’s office

  • Schedule/Cancel medical appointments. View upcoming and past appointments.

  • Pay bills securely.

  • View most test results, Radiology and Pathology reports and provider outpatient progress notes.

  • Request portions of your Medical Record with Altru (some fees may apply).

  • Request prescription renewals.

  • View your child’s record and print growth charts.

  • Manage care of elderly parents.


To sign up or for more information, check out the MyHealth login page.

See also:

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