5 Simple Tips for a Healthier You in 2014

Sometimes around this time of year, people can get overwhelmed and start struggling with their new years resolution. Many resolutions are often set on a great scale and aren’t necessarily realistic which makes them very hard to accomplish. So here are five easy tips that can promote good health without requiring much effort or dedication. By following these simple tips you will be able to increase your health and avoid trips to the doctors office.

1. Drink More Water – Staying hydrated can be one of the most important aspects of being healthier and more energized. The body can often mistake thirst for hunger and provide unwanted food cravings. By drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day, a person can jumpstart their metabolism and drastically improve their energy levels.

2. Walk – Many people believe that intense running or heavy weight lifting is the only way to jump start the body’s metabolism and promote weight loss. However, just the simple act of walking 20-40 minutes a day can increase cardiovascular endurance and does not take a harsh toll on your body

3. Eat Dark Chocolate – For all of you chocolate lovers out there trying to be healthier, you are in luck. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and can be beneficial to your immune system by decreasing your risk of cancer and a variety of cardiovascular diseases. So make the change from milk chocolate to dark chocolate in order to have a healthier 2014

4. Eat Breakfast – A good and healthy breakfast is the perfect way to jumpstart your metabolism and get you energized for the day. Try to include foods rich in protein such as eggs and complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat toast.

5. Sleep – The right amount of sleep can help you live longer, perform better, and stay sharper. It also can help you achieve a healthy weight. People who sleep more are more likely to have less cravings for unhealthy food throughout the day. For the sake of your health insurance bill, try to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

I hope this gives you a good base on how easy being healthier can be. It does not take hours in the gym or some crazy dieting to be healthier. These small steps can help you achieve a healthier you and help you keep your sanity at the same time!

Benefits of Life Insurance

Although none of us plan to die anytime soon, there are big benefits to having a life insurance plan. This is especially true for those who have a family, and are the primary breadwinner. Most plans are not terribly expensive and the benefits that your family receive are often necessary.

There are several logical reasons that make sense for having a life insurance plan. Very few people are debt free. The problem with dying unexpectedly is that you do not have the chance to finish paying off debt. Without life insurance, the debt can fall onto your family. The payment from the life insurance can help cover any unpaid debt or money owed.

Related to the inability to pay off debts, any form of future earnings are gone when you die. Life insurance policies can be adjusted so that the people accessing the money have limitations. For example, a college fund for children may have been set up to receive a large sum of money to supplement those future earnings.

Lastly, the costs incurred trying to keep you alive may have been substantial. This is a very common case and often times can severely affect your families future financial situation. With a life insurance plan, your family benefits from having money available to cover these costs and the funeral costs.

From a non-financial perspective, losing someone is a terrible thing and the grieving process can take a while for some people. This often means missing work for an extended amount of time. A portion of the payout can allow your family to take as much time as they need until they readjust back to life.

These are just a few benefits to consider and good reasons to buy life insurance. If you’re a physician or an executive looking for a position, www.adkissonconsultants.com is a great place to find high quality jobs and positions available.

Lower Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the most common problems people have. About 60 – 80% of the adult U.S. population has low back pain, and it is the second most common reason people go to the doctor. Low back problems affect the spine’s flexibility, stability, and strength, which can cause pain, discomfort, and stiffness.

Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. Each year 13 million people go to the doctor for chronic back pain. The condition leaves about 2.4 million Americans chronically disabled and another 2.4 million temporarily disabled.

Most back pain can be prevented by keeping your back muscles strong and making sure you practice good mechanics (like lifting heavy objects in a way that won’t strain your back).

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of low back pain may include:

  • Tenderness, pain, and stiffness in the lower back
  • Pain that spreads into the buttocks or legs
  • Having a hard time standing up or standing in one position for a long time
  • Discomfort while sitting
  • Weakness and tired legs while walking

What Causes It?

Low back pain is usually caused by and injury — strain from lifting, twisting, or bending. However, in rare cases low back pain can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as an infection, a rheumatic or arthritic condition, or a tumor.

A ruptured or bulging disk — the strong, spongy, gel-filled cushions that lie between each vertebra — and compression fractures of the vertebra, caused by osteoporosis, can also cause low back pain. Arthritis can cause the space around the spinal cord to narrows (called spinal stenosis), leading to pain.

Risk factors for back pain include age, smoking, being overweight, being female, being anxious or depressed, and either doing physical work or sedentary work.

What to Expect at Your Provider’s Office

Often your doctor will be able to diagnose your back pain with a physical exam. Your doctor will ask you to stand, sit, and move. Your doctor will check your reflexes and perhaps your response to touch, slight heat, or a pinprick. Depending on what your doctor finds, other tests may include an X-ray, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, a bone scan, and computed tomography (CT) scan.

Treatment

In many cases back pain will get better with self-care. You should see your doctor if you pain doesn’t get better within 72 hours. You can lower your risk of back problems by exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and practicing good posture. Learning to bend and lift properly, sleeping on a firm mattress, sitting in supportive chairs, and wearing low-heeled shoes are other important factors. Although you may need to rest your back for a little while, staying in bed for several days tends to make back pain worse.

For long-term back pain, your doctor may recommend stronger medications, physical therapy, or surgery. Most people will not need surgery for back pain.

Medications used to treat low back pain include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol (Soma), and steroids such as prednisone. Your doctor may prescribe opiates such as hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin) for short-term use. An injection of a corticosteroid (cortisone shot) may also help decrease inflammation.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies can help ease muscle tension, correct posture, relieve pain, and prevent long-term back problems by improving muscle strength and joint stability. Many people find pain relief by using hot and cold packs on the sore area. Special exercises, such as ones designed for your specific problem by a physical therapist, can help strengthen your core abdominal muscles and your back muscles, reducing pain and making your back stronger.

Nutrition and Dietary Supplements

There is no special diet for back pain, but you can help keep your body in good shape by eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat and sugar. Drink plenty of water.

Foods that are high in antioxidants (such as green leafy vegetables and berries) may help fight inflammation.

Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.

Exercise moderately at least 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week. Get your health care provider to okay you for exercise before starting a regimen.

These supplements may help fight inflammation and pain:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed and fish oils, 1 – 2 capsules or 1 tablespoonful oil daily, to help decrease inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids can increase the risk of bleeding and potentially interfere with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) and aspirin.
  • Glucosamine/chondroitin, 500 – 1,500 mg daily. In some studies, glucosamine and chondroitin have helped relieve arthritis pain. It has not been studied specifically for low back pain. People with allergies to shellfish should not use glucosamine. There are some concerns that chondroitin may worsen asthma symptoms. Glucosamine and chondroitin may interact with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) and aspirin.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), 3,000 mg twice a day, to help prevent joint and connective tissue breakdown. In some studies, MSM has been shown to help relieve arthritis pain.
  • Bromelain, 250 mg twice a day. This enzyme that comes from pineapples reduces inflammation. Bromelain may increase the risk of bleeding, so people who take anticoagulants (blood thinners) should not take bromelain without first talking to their health care provider. People with peptic ulcers should avoid bromelain. Turmeric is sometimes combined with bromelain, because it makes the effects of bromelain stronger. Bromelain may interact with some antibiotic medications.

Herbs

Herbs are generally available as standardized, dried extracts (pills, capsules, or tablets), teas, or tinctures/liquid extracts (alcohol extraction, unless otherwise noted). Mix liquid extracts with favorite beverage. Dose for teas is 1 – 2 heaping teaspoonfuls/cup water steeped for 10 – 15 minutes (roots need longer).

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa) standardized extract, 300 mg three times a day, for pain and inflammation. Turmeric is sometimes combined with bromelain because it makes the effects of bromelain stronger. Turmeric can increase the risk of bleeding, especially for people who take blood-thinning medication. Ask your doctor before taking turmeric.
  • Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) standardized extract, 100 – 200 mg one to two times daily. Devil’s claw has been used traditionally to relieve pain. One study found that more than 50% of people with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip or low back pain who took devil’s claw reported less pain and better mobility after 8 weeks. Devil’s claw may increase the risk of bleeding and interact with diabetes medications, so tell your health care provider before taking it if you also take blood-thinning medication or if you have diabetes. Devil’s claw can affect the heart and may not be right for people with certain heart problems. It can also potentially be problematic for people with gallstones.
  • Willow bark (Salix alba) standardized extract, 500 mg up to three times daily, to relieve pain. Willow acts similar to aspirin. Do not take white willow if you are also taking aspirin or blood-thinning medications. Check with your health care provider if you are allergic to aspirin or salicylates before taking white willow. Do not give Willow should to children under the age of 18.
  • Capsaicin (Capsicum frutescens) cream, applied to the skin (topically). Capsaicin is the main component in hot chili peppers (also known as cayenne). Applied to the skin, it is believed to temporarily reduce amounts of “substance P,” a chemical that contributes to inflammation and pain. One found a topical capsaicin cream relieved pain better than placebo in 320 people with low back pain. Pain reduction generally starts 3 – 7 days after applying the capsaicin cream to the skin.

Lower back pain can stem from feet problems.  If you’re located in the Bloomington, Normal area and are looking for a specialized Podiatrist visit Premier Podiatry

Heart and Oral Health Connected

Studies over the past few years have shown a connection with heart disease and poor oral health.  These studies have linked moderate or advanced periodontal disease with a higher likelihood of heart disease.  Although there has been a link between the two, they have not been established as causation for one another.  In other words, having gum disease won’t instantly increase your chance of heart disease.

There are a few risk factors that contribute to both diseases which may or may not be the reasoning between the linking.  These factors include:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Being male

Prevention is the best medicine in both cases.  Having great oral hygiene as well as consistent and steady workout regime and nutrition will lead to a much longer life.  Some great prevention methods for oral health include:

  • Brushing multiple times a day, don’t forget the gum line
  • Flossing daily to reach spots your toothbrush will miss
  • Using mouth rinse daily can reduce plaque up to 20%
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco, this also relates to heart health
  • Eat a healthy well rounded diet.  Nutrients are incredibly important for oral health as well as heart health.

If you have any questions on other methods to prevent heart and oral/gum disease contact your local dentist and make sure to have annual checkups.  If you live in the Central Illinois visit www.springfieldmoderndental.com

Celiac Disease – Nutritional Considerations

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder passed down through families. When a person with celiac disease eats or drinks anything containing gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, or sometimes oats (including medications), the immune system responds by damaging the lining of the intestinal tract. This damage affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

A gluten-free diet, when followed carefully, helps prevent symptoms of the disease.

Alternative Names

Gluten-free diet; Gluten sensitive enteropathy – diet; Celiac sprue – diet

Food Sources

Staples of the gluten-free diet include:

  • Cereals made without wheat or barley malt
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat
  • Milk-based items
  • Potatoes, rice, corn, beans
  • Specialty foods (such as pasta, bread, pancakes, and pastries) made with alternative grains (rice, tapioca, potato, or corn flours and starches)

You can buy these products through local and national food companies, or you can make them from scratch using alternative flours and grains.

The gluten-free diet involves removing all foods, drinks, and medications made from gluten. This means all items made with all-purpose, white, or wheat flour are prohibited. Obvious sources of gluten include:

  • Bagels
  • Bread and breaded foods
  • Buns
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Gravy
  • Most cereals
  • Most convenience foods
  • Most soups
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta
  • Pie
  • Pizza
  • Stuffing

Less obvious foods that must be eliminated include:

  • Beer
  • Certain candies
  • Certain salad dressings
  • Communion host
  • Croutons
  • Marinades
  • Sauces such as teriyaki and soy

There is a risk of cross-contamination. Items that are naturally gluten-free may become contaminated if they are made on the same production line as, or moved together in the same setting with, foods containing gluten.

Restaurant eating and social gatherings pose another, but manageable, challenge. Calling ahead and special planning become important measures. Label reading becomes a frequent, essential task due to the widespread use of wheat and barley in foods.

Despite its challenges, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is possible with education and planning.

Recommendations

Once you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it is very important that you talk to a registered dietitian who specializes in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.

Joining a local support group is also recommended. Support groups can help people with celiac disease share practical advice on ingredients, baking, and ways to cope with this life-altering, lifelong disease.

Your doctor might prescribe a multivitamin and mineral or individual nutrient supplement to correct or prevent a deficiency.

Fresh vs Frozen or Canned

Many people wonder if frozen and canned vegetables are as nutritious as fresh vegetables. The answer to this question depends on both the time between the harvesting of the vegetable and the canning and freezing process. Generally, vegetables are canned or frozen immediately upon harvest when their nutrient content is at its peak.

The way vegetables are prepared at home can also affect the nutrient content. Vegetables of any type (fresh, frozen, or canned) that are boiled in large amounts of water for long periods of time lose much of their nutritional content compared with vegetables that are lightly steamed.

Vegetables fresh from the farm or just picked are more nutritious than their frozen or canned counterparts, but frozen and canned vegetables are an acceptable nutritional alternative. Just be mindful of the amount of salt added to canned vegetables; try to buy those without added salt. And, don’t overcook any vegetables.

Wine and Heart Health

There is a fine line between healthy drinking and risky drinking. More studies are being done on the possible benefits wine (particularly red wine) may have on heart disease. However, it is a controversial topic.

There is some evidence that people who drink moderately may be less likely to develop heart disease than those who do not drink at all. However, drinking alcohol has been linked to:

  • Cancer
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Liver disease
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Obesity
  • Physical abuse
  • Stroke
  • Suicide
  • Swelling of the pancreas (pancreatitis)

Alcohol abuse is associated with cancers of the:

  • Breast
  • Colon
  • Mouth
  • Rectum
  • Throat (pharynx)
  • Voice box (larynx)

In addition, although some studies suggest that alcohol may raise the good kind of cholesterol (HDL), it also raises a type of fat in the blood (triglycerides).

The American Heart Association and other experts say there are much more effective ways to prevent heart disease, including:

  • Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Exercising and following a low-fat, healthy diet
  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a normal weight

These tried and true methods have much more scientific proof supporting them than does drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. Furthermore, the benefits suggested by some of the studies on alcohol are likely due to other factors such as:

  • A diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Antioxidants found in red wine called flavonoids (which are also found in other foods such as grapes and red grape juice)
  • More physical activity in countries that drink wine regularly

There is also a substance in alcohol known as resveratrol, which may reduce blood clot formation. However, taking aspirin following your doctor’s instructions is a more standard method for lowering your chances of developing a blood clot if you are at risk for heart disease or stroke. Note: You should NOT drink alcohol if you take aspirin regularly.

Women should have no more than 1 drink per day. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day. A drink is defined as:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 4 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of liquor or 80-proof spirits

Even light drinking can lead to addiction. Pregnant women need to avoid alcohol consumption altogether because it can cause serious birth defects.

References

Lichtenstein AH, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee. Circulation. 2006;114:82-96.

Mukamal KJ, Chiuve SE, Rimm EB. Alcohol consumption and risk for coronary heart disease in men with healthy lifestyles. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:2145-2150.

Mosca L, Banka CL, Benjamin EJ, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention in women: 2007 update. Circulation. 2007;115:1481-1501.

Margarine vs. Butter

Is margarine healthier than butter? Neither is ideal, because butter is loaded with saturated fat, and almost all margarines have some saturated fat and trans fatty acids. However, if you must use one or the other, margarine may be better than butter.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Use canola or olive oil instead of butter or margarine.
  • Choose soft margarine (tub or liquid) over harder stick forms.
  • Choose margarines with liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient.
  • Even better, choose “light” margarines that list water as the first ingredient, because these are even lower in saturated fat.
  • If you have high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about using margarines made from plant sterols or stanols. These substances, made from soybean and pine tree oils, can help lower your LDL cholesterol by as much as 20%. The American Heart Association recommends further study for children, pregnant women, and those without high cholesterol.

Limit:

  • Margarines, shortening, and cooking oils that have more than 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.
  • “Hydrogenated” and “partially-hydrogenated” fats, because these are high in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids. Read ingredients on food labels.
  • Coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils, because they are very high in saturated fat.
  • Shortening or other fats made from animal sources.

References

Lichtenstein AH, et al. AHA Scientific Statement. Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006. A scientific statement from the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee. Circulation. 2006;114:82-96.

10 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease

There are hundreds of diets, workouts, and ideas floating around on how to prevent heart disease.  Switching from an unhealthy lifestyle is tough, but adding years onto your life could be well worth the turmoil you go through.  Here are 10 tested and proven methods to preventing heart disease:

  1. Eat more vegetables and fruit: vegetables and fruits have a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and are low in calories.  Switching out high fat foods for vegetables and fruits will increase your health as well as making you feel full longer.
  2. Whole Grains: whole grain is a great source of fiber which makes you feel fuller when you eat.  Whole grains is the easiest substitution in a heart-healthy diet.  There are some great whole-grain products like bread, flour, cereal, rice, and pasta.
  3. Limit Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease.  Fatty deposits within your arteries reduce the flow of blood and oxygen that your heart needs to survive.  Limiting your cholesterol intake is a big key to preventing heart disease.
  4. Reduce Sodium Intake: Eating a lot of sodium is a key contributor to high blood pressure.  Reducing sodium is a vital step in improving heart health.
  5. Exercise: An inactive lifestyle is a top risk factor for heart disease.  Regular exercise can strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system, improve heart failure symptoms, lower blood pressure, strengthen bones and much more!
  6. Manage Stress: There is a strong correlation between high amounts of stress and heart disease.  Stress can make your heart work harder, causing problems.  Breathing techniques, working out, and yoga are great starting points.
  7. Don’t Smoke/Use Tobacco: Smoking or using tobacco products greatly increases your risk of developing heart disease.  Chemicals found in these products can damage your heart and narrow your arteries.
  8. Consume Omega-3 acids: Usually found in fish, omega-3 acids lower inflammation in the body and can lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, and boost immunity.  If you aren’t a fan of fish try out fish oil pills, I recommend the chewables!
  9. Limit Sugary Drinks: Soda and sugary drinks are usually on-par with an addiction like cigarettes.  Daily sodas, energy drinks, and juice can be a significant health risk.
  10. Increase Your Fiber Intake: Studies have shown that a high-fiber diet contribute to a lower risk of heart disease.  Opting for whole grains is a great start, other options are oats, beans, and citrus fruits.

5 Reasons You Should Visit a Dermatologist

Dermatologists are commonly mistaken as skin doctors, when they’re actually specialized in skin, hair, nails all diseases related to them. Dermatologists are unique as the therapies offered can be cosmetic, medical, or even surgical. Here are some of the most common reasons to visit a dermatologist:

  1.  Acne: Many people try to diagnose acne themselves and treat it with over-the-counter products. Acne can cause horrible scarring if not treated correctly and a dermatologist can be the perfect option before it gets out of control or if usual treatments stop working.
  2. Skin Cancer: Early detection of skin cancer is incredibly important and can prevent a lot of unnecessary problems. Some common symptoms for skin cancer are reddish patch of dry skin that won’t heal, pimple that won’t clear, flesh-colored lumps, sore that bleeds, moles that are growing or bleed, dark spot on the skin that looks like a mole but grows quickly. If any of these symptoms arise please visit a dermatologist!
  3. Treatment of skin conditions: There are multiple skin conditions that dermatologists can work on surgically or medically. Some of these skin conditions include cysts, acne, hives, eczema, skin cancer, and rashes.
  4. Cosmetic Services: Dermatologists can perform surgical or medical procedures that help with one’s appearance. Make sure your insurance covers these procedures or have a plan to pay as most providers do not cover these. Some examples are botox, laser treatments, mini-facials, spider vein treatment, spray tanning, juvederm, and disport.
  5. Advice: Like many doctors and other specialists, dermatologists can you help you prepare for future problems, help understand your skin type, and give you information on how to best treat your hair, skin, and nails.

Although this is only 5 reasons to visit a dermatologist there are many other procedures that can be done at your local office. Skin care is very important and some of the most advanced procedures are available to treat or prevent damage to your skin, nails and hair. For a highly rated dermatologist in the Bloomington, IL area visit Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute.