It’s another informative Hilden’s House Calls on Episode 17 of the Healthy Matters Podcast where Dr. Hilden answers questions from listeners about everything from polio to pickled probiotics.

Marie from White Bear Lake heard about a recent polio case near New York City. Yes – it’s true. A case of poliomyelitis – which was thought to have been eradicated – was recently diagnosed. Unfortunately, polio still exists in the world, but it is indeed rare. There are two types of polio vaccines: one is a shot, and one is an oral liquid. The oral one is no longer used in the United States because it contains a live virus; however, it is used in other parts of the world. We’ll learn more about this but it’s likely that the individual with the virus came from another country where they received a vaccine that we do not use in this country.

John in Minneapolis (who is also our unpretentious podcast producer) loves pickles and apparently comes from a strong paternal line of pickled food enthusiasts. Herring, beets, onions, mushrooms – no preserved item is safe within his grip. He asks if there is a health risk associated with his fervor for the fermented.

John might be the first person I’ve met with this degree of pickle passion. Pickling basically marinates and preserves food – usually with vinegar and some salt (brine). Kimchi, for example, probably contains lots of probiotics because as items ferment, they develop beneficial bacteria.  That can be good for your gut, and it might contain other vitamins and nutrients. The only downside that I’m aware of is the salt content. If you’re someone with heart failure or high blood pressure, you should monitor your salt intake – wherever it comes from – even if it’s a homemade jar of pickles.

Steve from Kansas City called in to ask us a question about grilled foods. Is there such a thing as too much barbecue? I tread lightly on this answer for our friend from one of the famous barbecue cities in the United States. And it made me hungry.

Claire in St. Cloud asked about monkeypox. Diane, from Champlin had questions about the shingles vaccine. Sarah in Hudson wondered about Paxlovid antiviral pills for treating COVID.

Cathy from Coon Rapids asks about the new 988 number for mental health. Everybody knows to call 9-1-1 for emergencies, but now we have another number to call specifically for mental health concerns. When you call this number a live, highly trained counselor answers. It’s best used by people in a mental health crisis, specifically those who are at risk of hurting themselves.

Kevin from East Grand Forks wrote in and asked us about the connection between exercise and mental health. Is there any connection between exercise and cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s?

Right now, there are millions of people who have cognitive problems like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. We don’t know how or why it develops in some people, but lots of research is being conducted and what they are finding is that exercise – both physical and mental exercise – have been shown to help.  I share more specific information about this in the podcast. So take a listen and go for a walk – exercise your brain AND your body with Episode 17 of the Healthy Matters Podcast!